April 23, 2020

Senators Markey and Warren Call on Trump Admin. to Meet Massachusetts’ Needs and Ensure Equity, Transparency in Hospital and Health Care Provider Relief Funds

Senators request greater funding for coronavirus hotspots, health care providers with large Medicaid populations

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC – United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today called on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to meet Massachusetts’ needs in subsequent disbursements from the Provider Relief Fund, which includes $100 billion in funding to support health care providers during the coronavirus pandemic. HHS has distributed an initial $30 billion from the Fund – which was created by Congress in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – based on providers’ 2019 Medicare receipts. The senators commend the transparent disbursement of the initial round of funding and are calling on HHS to issue subsequent rounds of funding in ways that better account for Massachusetts providers. Even though Massachusetts represents 4.7 percent of all COVID-19 cases nationwide, it only received 2.8 percent of the initial distribution of $30 billion. Additionally, states such as Minnesota, Nebraska, and West Virginia received more than $300,000 per reported COVID-19 case, while Massachusetts only received $44,000 per reported case. Senators Warren and Markey are calling on HHS to provide additional funds to states disproportionately impacted by coronavirus – so-called “hot spots” – as well as health care providers left out of the initial disbursements from the Provider Relief Fund. These health care providers include providers with large Medicaid and Medicare advantage populations, provider types for whom Medicare is a smaller portion of their revenue, and providers and facilities for whom 2019 Medicare revenues do not represent normal patient volumes.

“As HHS works to fully implement the Provider Relief Fund, we urge you to prioritize funds for health care facilities, providers, and other medical workers not adequately accounted for in the initial disbursement — in particular, in states such as Massachusetts that have the most COVID-19 cases per capita,” write Senators Warren and Markey in their letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “We are encouraged by HHS’s transparency in the initial round of disbursements. Moving away from objective criteria to distributing funds by political influence or electoral significance is unacceptable.”

Senators Warren and Markey also requested HHS to provide more information about how it plans to allocate remaining provider relief funds, including how it plans to identify “hot spots,” how it plans to provide assistance to providers unaccounted for in the initial disbursement, how HHS plans to account for racial and ethnic disparities in fund allocations, and how HHS plans to provide transparency with respect to the Provider Relief Fund.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Senator Warren has pressed the Trump Administration to respond effectively to deliver the robust set of resources needed to address this public health emergency, including by supporting the state's request for a major disaster declaration. She unveiled detailed plans to increase diagnostic testing nationwide, has consistently sounded the alarm over the Trump administration's failure to deliver federal support for testing and care in Massachusetts, and has repeatedly called on Congress to force the Trump Administration to fully use the Defense Production Act to produce badly-needed medical supplies, including ventilators. Senator Warren also urged the Federal Reserve to reconsider the arbitrary population requirements that lock most cities and counties out of budget relief under the CARES Act, and called for state, local, and tribal governments to receive dedicated, flexible funding in the next COVID-19 emergency funding package. She also urged President Trump to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA to waive all of the traditional cost-share requirements for major disaster assistance.