WHA is urging Wisconsin's congressional delegation to support legislation that would ensure the rest of the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) dollars get to hospitals as soon as possible.
, the Provider Relief Improvement Act, was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa), and Nancy Mace (R-N.C.). This legislation would improve the utility of the PRF by granting health care providers more flexibility to use PRF dollars through the remainder of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The legislation would also:
- Require HHS to distribute all remaining PRF funds no later than March 31, 2022;
- Extend the deadline for using PRF awards through the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency;
- Require HHS to return funds it recouped from providers at the first June 30, 2021, reporting deadline; and
- Permit funds to be used for additional COVID related expenses, such as workplace security and safety measures.
WHA sent out an Action Alert to the WHA Hospitals Advocacy & Education Team (HEAT) grassroots network on Nov. 18, who responded with nearly 300 messages so far to Wisconsin federal representatives requesting they cosponsor this legislation.
An October 2021 study by the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimated that nearly $27 billion in additional funds remain unspent from the PRF. Given the added pressures hospitals are facing with another surge in COVID cases from the delta variant, this legislation would provide much needed relief.
On Nov. 23, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced
they had begun distributing $7.5 billion in rural payments to health care providers authorized in the American Rescue Plan Act
that passed in March of 2021. The agency also announced the Phase 4 PRF payments would soon be going out to health care providers. This is welcome news as hospitals deal with an unprecedented health care workforce shortage that has dramatically increased staffing costs, particularly as more hospitals must fill positions with traveling nurses.
WHA is continuing to advocate for additional assistance at the federal level. Contact WHA Vice President of Federal and State Relations Jon Hoelter
To learn more about WHA’s Hospitals Education & Advocacy Team (HEAT) and to receive future Action Alerts, sign up here
or contact WHA Vice President of Advocacy Kari Hofer