HELP ECMC GET FEDERAL FUNDING TO HOSPITALS AFFECTED BY COVID-19 PANDEMIC
BY CONTACTING YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE!
As a frontline urban safety net hospital, as well as Western New York’s only Level 1 Adult Trauma hospital, ECMC responded quickly to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic when, two months ago, it immediately expanded its capability to care for COVID-19 positive patients.
ECMC continues to have significant increases in expenses related to purchasing supplies, PPE, and paying premium pay to staff. At the same time, it abided by state mandates to suspend all elective surgeries. The result has been devastating to ECMC’s revenue and overall finances, which amounts to a loss estimated at $29M through April 30th.
In the latest round of federal funding, ECMC received $0 because it did not have over 100 COVID-19 patient admissions from January 1st to April 10th. Kaleida Health received $30.4M and Catholic Health received $35M.
Thomas J. Quatroche Jr., PhD, President and CEO, Erie Medical Center Corporation said, “It is inconceivable that no relief funds were provided to ECMC in the latest round of federal funding designed to help severely affected hospitals struggling with the impact of the pandemic. Hospitals like ECMC, who take care of some of the poorest and most vulnerable citizens in our community, have been left behind significantly in these appropriations.”
To date, Kaleida Health has received $59.3M from federal funding and the Catholic Health has received $55.6M while ECMC has only received $11.5M in Provider Relief Fund appropriations. This is mostly because the federal government has not based any of its funding to hospitals on Medicaid, so that states like New York do not receive the funding it needs. Federal funding appropriations include to date $62 billion from $175 billion of the Provider Relief Fund.
ECMC urges its federal Congressional representatives and all members of Congress to sign onto a letter to Secretary Alex Azar U.S. Department of Health and Human Services drafted by Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D- NC) and Pete Olson (R-TX), which urges the Secretary to ensure that this key federal funding reaches hospitals like ECMC, stating: “We respectfully urge you to quickly target a significant portion of the remainder of the Provider Relief Fund to providers who serve high Medicaid and low-income patient populations. This funding is imperative to bolster hospitals and other safety-net providers with modest resources, enabling them to fulfill their mission during the current public health emergency.”
Since the first COVID-19 patient was admitted on March 16th, ECMC admitted 156 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 (41 patients have been ventilated). Currently, there are 33 patients admitted to the hospital who are positive with the COVID-19 virus, 10 of whom are on ventilators.
Jonathan A. Dandes, Chair, Erie County Medical Center Corporation Board of Directors said, “We urge our federal representatives to ensure that ECMC, as well as our partner safety net hospitals across the country, receive funding from the remaining appropriation from the Provider Relief Fund and we urge our federal representatives to demand that the Department of Health and Human Services dedicate $20 billion of the fund for safety net hospitals like ECMC. Operating on very thin margins, while fulfilling our mission and commitment to caring for the most vulnerable citizens in our community, especially as they are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 virus, it is only right that ECMC and other safety net hospitals receive the same support from the federal government as those hospitals that were funded initially based on net patient revenue via the initial $62 billion from HHS.”
How You Can Help
Please urge your representative, which you can find by listing your address at the following website: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/map to send the letter below asking that the Department of Health and Human Services target a portion of remaining COVID-19 emergency funds toward health care providers—including essential hospitals—seeing disproportionate numbers of Medicaid and low-income patients during the pandemic.
Ask Your Representative to Send the Following Letter!
The Honorable Alex Azar
Secretary U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Secretary Azar,
We write to urge you to allocate a significant portion of the remaining Provider Relief Fund dollars to hospitals and providers who serve a disproportionate number of Medicaid and low-income patients. We are grateful for your swift action to deliver much-needed resources appropriated by Congress to hospitals and providers preparing for and responding to the COVID19 pandemic. However, we are concerned the allocations to date do not provide sufficient relief for health care providers in our districts treating the most vulnerable populations at risk for becoming infected with the virus.
Congress initially appropriated $100 billion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (P.L. 116-136) to support health care providers as they concurrently increase spending to prepare for a surge in COVID-19 patients and drastically reduce revenue by cancelling elective procedures and appointments. This perfect storm of increased expenses and lost revenue creates an immediate and vast need that is most acutely felt by those providers with limited financial reserves and who serve high-need, high-cost patients. Recognizing the dire situation of health care providers responding to the pandemic, Congress appropriated an additional $75 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act (P.L. 116-139).
To date, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has disbursed around $72 billion from the Provider Relief Fund. However, the distribution methodology, particularly for the largest $50 billion disbursement of emergency funds, disadvantages providers who see a lower volume of traditional Medicare patients and have fewer commercial payers. The net patient revenue metric does not fully capture the unique challenges faced by providers on the front lines of the health care safety net. Consequently, it does not provide adequate support to the providers who serve vulnerable communities disproportionately at risk of exposure and infection.
The COVID-19 crisis is threatening the stability of the health care safety net. For example, we have heard from a number of mission-driven hospitals who are losing tens of millions of dollars yet have received limited federal support. Many of these hospitals have thin operating margins and are struggling to make payroll while simultaneously outfitting their facilities and personnel and competing for scarce resources to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
We understand the challenge of expeditiously allocating funds to providers ensuring these funds are both fairly distributed and reach the providers with the most imminent need. Regretfully, the methodology so far has fallen short of this critical goal.
We respectfully urge you to quickly target a significant portion of the remainder of the Provider Relief Fund to providers who serve high Medicaid and low-income patient populations. This funding is imperative to bolster hospitals and other safety-net providers with modest resources, enabling them to fulfill their mission during the current public health emergency.
Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.