WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) joined 40 of his Senate colleagues to urge Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to provide immediate assistance to rural hospitals and clinics by using resources included in the recently passed Phase III relief effort to sustain rural health providers.
The vast majority of rural hospitals have ceased performing elective procedures and seeing non-urgent patients. The COVID-19 crisis must take precedence, but these actions threaten rural hospitals’ financial viability. The members call for immediate steps to provide financial relief for rural providers.
“We are hearing from rural hospitals from across the country that have only days left of cash on hand – money needed for payroll and supplies,” the members wrote. “Mr. Secretary, our rural providers need your immediate assistance. Congress has provided you with the funding and flexibility. Now it is up to the administration to respond with rapid action to sustain rural providers. Any unnecessary delay will only worsen this situation. Therefore, we request you make the financial relief of rural hospitals a priority. Rural hospitals need access to financial resources immediately and in the most streamlined manner.”
Sen. Moran was joined by 40 U.S. Senators: John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.),Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Angus S. King, Jr. (I-Maine), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).
Sen. Moran was also joined by 81 U.S. Representatives: Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-Wash.), Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Liz Cheney, (R-Wyo.), Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), Michael T. McCaul (R-Texas), Troy Balderson (R-Ohio), John Joyce, M.D. (R-Pa.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.), John Carter (R-Texas), Alex X. Mooney (R-W.Va.), Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), Jack Bergman (R-Minn.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-W. Va.), Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), Brian Babin, D.D.S. (R-Texas), Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Ralph Abraham (R-La.), Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Mike Bost (R-Ill.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), TJ Cox (D-Calif.), Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), Cheri Bustos (D-Ill), Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-Ind.), Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.), Robert B. Aderholt (R-Ala.), David Kustoff (R-Tenn.), Don Young (R-Alaska), Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Carol D. Miller (R-W.Va.), Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.), John Moolenaar (R-Mcih.), Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Darren Soto (D-Fla.), Russ Fulcher (R-Ind.), Ron Wright (R-Texas), Gregory F. Murphy, M.D. (R-N.C.), Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), Ted S. Yoho, D.V.M. (R-Fla.), Jason Smith (R-Mo.), James Comer (R-Ky.), Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.), Ben Cline (R-Va.), Billy Long (R-Mo.), Cynthia Axne (D-Iowa), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Neal Dunn, M.D. (R-Fla.), Elise M. Stefanik (R-N.Y.), French Hill (R-Ark.), Fred Keller (R-Pa.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Ron Estes (R-Kan.), Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Andy Harris, M.D. (R-Md.), Mark Green, M.D. (R-Tenn.), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Michael Guest (R-Miss.), John Rose (R-Tenn.), Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), H. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), Austin Scott (R-Ga.), and Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M. (R-Ohio).
The full letter is below and here.
The Honorable Alex Azar
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20201
Dear Secretary Azar,
Rural hospitals are the backbone of communities across our nation. These providers are on the frontlines combating the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. It is imperative these health care professionals receive the immediate support they need to continue caring for our communities.
Small and rural hospitals across the nation are facing an acute financial crisis. Even before this crisis, nearly one-half of rural hospitals were operating at a financial loss, and hundreds were on the brink of closure. Now, they are confronting impossible choices during this public health emergency. The administration must focus on ensuring the financial viability of these providers. Failure to take fast and aggressive action will put the health of our communities at further risk.
In response to this crisis, Congress has enacted a series of bipartisan laws to rescue our economy and health care system. Most recently, we passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This legislation includes new funding to provide financial relief for hospitals. The CARES Act provides you with the flexibility to deliver assistance where it is needed most. Right now, some rural hospitals are reporting they are running out of operating funds. This jeopardizes their ability to maintain health care services during the COVID-19 outbreak. We cannot afford to ignore their pressing needs.
The vast majority of rural hospitals have also ceased performing elective procedures and seeing non-urgent patients. They know the COVID-19 emergency confronting our country must take precedence. However, these actions threaten their financial viability. We are hearing from rural hospitals from across the country that have only days left of cash-on-hand – money needed for payroll and supplies.
Mr. Secretary, our rural providers need your immediate assistance. Congress has provided you with the funding and flexibility. Now it is up to the administration to respond with rapid action to sustain rural providers. Any unnecessary delay will only worsen this situation.
Therefore, we request you make the financial relief of rural hospitals a priority. Rural hospitals need access to financial resources immediately and in the most streamlined manner. We also request you provide Members of Congress with a personal briefing by teleconference by April 3, 2020.
Thank you for your attention to ensuring the health and well-being of patients in rural America. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your efforts addressing our concerns.