Senator Collins Leads Efforts to Urge HHS to Release PRF ResourcesMaine Senator Susan Collins led a bipartisan group of more than 40 U.S. senators who wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, asking the department to release funding from the Provider Relief Fund to health care providers, including nursing homes and assisted living communities.
The letter stated, “Over the course of the pandemic, Congress has appropriated $178 billion for the Provider Relief Fund [PRF] as well as an additional $8.5 billion for rural providers. Hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living providers, health clinics, and other health care providers need these funds to help weather the financial difficulties created by the pandemic. In rural areas in particular, the PRF has prevented facilities that struggled before and during the pandemic from falling into bankruptcy or closing entirely.
“On July 19, the Government Accountability Office [GAO] reported that about 25% of Provider Relief Fund appropriations and all of the rural provider funding remained unobligated as of May 31, 2021 … GAO recommended that HHS communicate information about, and facilitate oversight of, the department's use of COVID-19 relief funds by providing projected time frames for its planned distributions in the spend plans it submits to Congress.
The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) also sent a letter to Secretary Becerra earlier this month to make the same request. No resources have been distributed to health care providers yet this year.
Additional federal funding cannot come soon enough, the association said. Long term care facilities are facing a severe economic crisis due to chronic Medicaid underfunding and the ongoing costs associated with fighting COVID-19. Unfortunately, the pandemic is not over, and dedicating extensive resources on personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, and staffing will remain constant for the foreseeable future, the letter said.
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