April 17, 2020

Whitehouse, Senate Finance Committee Democrats Call for Transparent, Equitable Distribution of Remaining $70 Billion in CARES Act Hospitals Fund

RI providers received $90.5 million in initial distribution from pandemic aid fund

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has joined 11 Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee in calling on the Trump administration to distribute the remaining critical COVID-19 aid to health care providers in an equitable and transparent way.  In a letter sent to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, the senators noted the distribution of the first $30 billion dollars failed to deliver funds where they are needed most.  Rhode Island providers received $90.5 million in the initial round of funding last week.

“While we appreciate your efforts to distribute the first $30 billion of these funds based on fiscal year 2019 Medicare fee-for-service claims data, the Administration failed to deliver much needed relief to many essential providers across the country due to this approach,” the senators wrote.  “We continue to hear from providers in each of our states including children’s hospitals, hospice organizations, hospitals in rural and underserved urban areas, physicians, nursing homes, residential care and senior living communities, behavioral health care providers, community health centers, home health agencies and direct service providers, and other front line providers that need additional financial support immediately to ensure they make it through this crisis. 

The CARES Act, which Congress approved late last month, included a $100-billion fund to support hospitals bracing for the COVID-19 pandemic.  The senators outlined two key priorities they are urging the Trump administration to adhere to when it distributes the remaining $70 billion in the fund.  First, the senators requested the administration provide complete and immediate transparency.  There should be a detailed public account of where all the dollars have gone, and a thorough explanation of the criteria used to determine which providers receive funds.

The second priority is to ensure the equitable distribution of funds, meaning the dollars should go where they are needed most.  Future distributions should account for the imbalanced allocation of the first $30 billion, ensure that all providers receive the resources they need, and avoid penalizing states for their efforts to expand qualified, comprehensive health coverage.

The full letter can be found here.


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