Ernst: Rural hospitals need financial assistance ‘immediately’

The Iowa senator is urging HHS to provide immediate financial assistance from the Phase 3 package to rural health care providers in Iowa and across the country amid COVID-19 pandemic

RED OAK, Iowa – After hearing from a number of hospitals, health centers, and workers in Iowa about the need for immediate financial relief, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) successfully helped include critical funding for the health care community on the front lines of COVID-19 in the recently-passed, bipartisan Phase 3 package.Building on that effort, Ernst is now urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to immediately assist rural hospitals and clinics by prioritizing funding for these critical health care providers.

In the letter, Ernst writes: “We are hearing from rural hospitals from across the country that have only days left of cash on hand – money needed for payroll and suppliesour 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.”

Ernst and her colleagues point out that the vast majority of rural hospitals – including many in Iowa – have ceased performing elective procedures and seeing non-urgent patients, given the COVID-19 pandemic is taking first priority. However, this loss of revenue greatly threatens the financial viability and sustainability of rural hospitals across the country. In addition, Ernst and her colleagues also requested that the administration host a teleconference with members of Congress by April 3, 2020 to provide an update on how the agency intends to assist rural providers and hospitals across the country.

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