Toomey: Pa. hospitals will receive $1.25B in first wave of CARES Act assistance

    Capital-Star file

    (*Updated with comment from the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania)

    Pennsylvania’s hospitals and healthcare providers will receive $1.25 billion in the $30 billion first wave of assistance approved by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s R-Pa., office said Friday.

    The massive, $2 trillion CARES Act authorized $100 billion in spending on what’s known as the Providers Relief Fund. The first $30 billion in that assistance is being delivered this week. The first wave of funding will benefit 12,661 Pennsylvania health care providers, according to Toomey’s office.

    The latest on COVID-19 in Pa.: 19,979 confirmed cases in all 67 counties

    “Pennsylvania’s hospitals and health care providers are leading the charge in the fight against COVID-19,” Toomey said in a statement his office released Friday. “Pennsylvanians have access to dedicated health care workers, world-class care, and the top medical innovators in the world. Implementing the CARES Act and delivering $1.25 billion to hospitals and providers in Pennsylvania will help cover COVID-19-related expenses and care for patients in need.”

    Two weeks ago, Pennsylvania lawmakers approved, and Gov. Tom Wolf signed, a $50 million emergency relief fund for hospitals that is intended to compliment the federal aid package.

    This week, the hospital industry’s main trade group, the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania, said it’s asking Wolf and lawmakers for authorization of another financial aid package that includes a relief fund specifically earmarked for COVID-19 costs, tax forgiveness, and liability protection.

    In a statement, the trade group said it was “enormously grateful for the immediate, direct and timely relief though the federal CARES act, and thank Congress for swift action in recognition of the devastating fiscal reality they face. With the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the commonwealth’s hospitals will totaling more than $1.5 billion each month, there is an urgent need to ensure the financial stability of our health care system in the short and long term.

    “This initial $1.25 billion provides immediate cash flow as hospitals grapple with exponentially increasing expenses and drastically reduced revenues,” the statement reads. “We will note that the distribution formula for this round of relief underrepresents hospitals with immediate needs, for example: those serving patients who have Medicare Advantage plans or Medicaid, or who are not insured; providing pediatric care; rural hospitals; and hospitals in COVID-19 hot spots. HAP will continue working with Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation to ensure that the commonwealth’s needs are reflected in the next rounds of funding.”

    John L. Micek
    John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. He's been covering Pennsylvania politics for more than 20 years and most recently served as Opinion Editor at PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Micek's commentary is syndicated to more than 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. And he's a regular contributor to a host of broadcast outlets in Pennsylvania and abroad.