Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy III is demanding that Alex Azar, the Health and Human Services Secretary, release the remaining funds from the CARES Act that was created three months ago.
Initially, the program provided $100 billion in relief to health care providers. But Kennedy is saying there could be as much as $72.6 billion available to strengthen the healthcare system.
“Now is not the time to be shortchanging health care providers or the patients who rely on them,” Kennedy said. “Day after day, this Administration fails to comprehend the scale of devastation caused by COVID-19 and the urgency that this moment demands. These funds need to be distributed today so that our communities remain healthy and safe.”
After talking to various leaders in the healthcare industry throughout the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Congressman cited furloughs and hour reductions in the industry as evidence that the remaining funds cannot be delayed any longer.
James W. Hunt Jr. is the President and CEO of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers. He said health care centers across the state are working tirelessly to provide testing, tracing and treatment to over 30 million COVID patients.
“While health centers are exactly the type of care model the Provider Relief Fund was designed to help, the disbursements they have received to date are roughly equal to two percent of their total patient revenues -- woefully insufficient,” Hunt Jr. said.
He continued, “support from the Provider Relief Fund is a critical tool for helping health centers mitigate community spread of the virus, prepare for an anticipated second surge, and do what it takes to ensure the health and safety of our communities.”
The President and CEO of the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association said that this relief is essential to the hospitals’ ability to weather the pandemic and continue treatments.
“The COVID-19 crisis has devastated the financial stability of the Massachusetts healthcare system, and we cannot get fully back on track without additional federal relief,” Steve Walsh said. “We are grateful for Congressman Kennedy’s urgency on this critical issue and his advocacy to secure timely funding for our providers.”