Perspective: Making the Case for COVID-19 Relief

Without federal support we would “have run out of cash and been forced to close down the hospital.”

If we didn’t get federal funding, “we would have shut the doors by now.”

Both of those comments came from hospital CEOs this week … the first from David Perlstein, M.D., president and CEO of SBH Health System in the Bronx, N.Y., and the second from Sheila Currans, CEO of Harrison Memorial Hospital in Cynthiana, Ky. They were discussing on an AHA press call the crucial role federal funding has played in keeping their hospitals open and access to care available in their communities.

And the truth is, those comments could have come from many hospital or health system leaders in every state across the country as our field continues to confront the greatest public health and financial challenge in the nation’s history.

With COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths on the rise in much of the country, negotiations on the next COVID-19 relief package are picking up in the Senate.

And it’s critical that your senators hear from you today … and every day until a deal is finalized … that hospital and health system priorities must be included in the legislation.

First, please urge your senators to include at least an additional $100 billion for the provider relief fund. We joined with the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association to make this request to Senate leaders as a new analysis prepared for the AHA estimates that without further government support, hospitals’ margins in the second half of 2020 could sink to –7%, with half of all hospitals operating in the red.

In addition, please urge your senators to include:

  • Full forgiveness for Medicare accelerated payments;
  • More support for front-line caregivers;
  • Liability protections for front-line medical providers and facilities; and
  • Maintaining health benefits for individuals and families … and increasing coverage options for the uninsured.

More details and resources on these priorities and others that we want included in the relief package are available on our AHA Action Center webpage.

We’re continuing to push all the levers on our end to make the case. And the Coalition to Protect America’s Health Care – of which the AHA is a founding member – and its more than 2 million supporters are joining the fight too. You may have seen the Coalition’s ad during the Nationals and Yankees game last night, and you’ll see AHA’s ad on the Sunday news shows again this weekend.

During the next week or two (or more), we’ll see lots of political posturing from all sides of Capitol Hill as negotiations intensify. Be certain, there is a lot of legitimate competition for resources, from helping schools to businesses small and large.

But we believe hospitals and health systems should be at the front of the line … because we are on the front lines battling the virus, comforting families and saving lives. Please keep sharing that message with your senators.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *