Sending Office: Honorable Xochitl Torres Small
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Deadline: Friday at 12pm.
Endorsed by the National Rural Health Association.
Current signers: Torres Small, Hagedorn, O’Halleran, Costa, Finkenauer, Axne, Sewell, Sanford D. Bishop, André Carson, Hastings, Vargas, DeFazio, Derek Kilmer, TJ Cox, Welch, Trone
Please join us in requesting that HHS allocate at least 20% of the $75 billion appropriated to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund by the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act to rural providers.
As you know, HHS has committed to setting aside $10 billion of the $100 billion allocated for healthcare providers in the CARES Act to rural providers. While this step will go a long way towards helping the desperate financial situation of rural hospitals
and clinics, we are concerned that this will not be enough to address the unique challenges facing rural providers as they confront the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Prior to this crisis, one in five rural hospitals was at risk of closure. Now, facing losses at times larger than half of monthly expected revenues due to the postponement of elective surgeries and increased operating costs, hundreds of rural hospitals are
on the brink of closure. At a time when rural hospitals and clinics are on the front lines of treating a population that is on average older and has higher rates of comorbidities, we cannot allow providers to be forced to close their doors and furlough their
Xochitl Torres Small Jim Hagedorn
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Dear Secretary Azar and Deputy Secretary Hargan,
We write to thank you for your leadership in ensuring that $10 billion of the $100 billion allocated for healthcare providers by the CARES Act is distributed to rural hospitals and clinics. We ask that you build upon this commitment to rural communities
by allocating at least 20% of the $75 billion appropriated to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund by the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act to rural providers. Given the financial challenges facing rural hospitals
and clinics across the country, this funding is essential to ensure our rural health care providers are able to continue treating patients.
The $10 billion in CARES Act set aside for rural providers will go a long way in alleviating the current financial strain. However, given the scale of current losses, we are concerned that this allocation will not be enough to meet the needs of rural healthcare
facilities. $10 billion, in addition to the amounts provided to rural providers in the earlier rounds of payments, is less than 20% of all funding allocated to healthcare providers in the CARES Act, and as you know, roughly 20% of the U.S. population lives
in a rural area. This allocation is not only disproportional to the population it serves, it is also insufficient to address the significant revenue loss that rural providers are facing due to the suspension of non-emergency care, and the increased costs
they will incur when the virus reaches its epidemiological peak.
The outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S. comes at a time in which rural hospitals and clinics are increasingly vulnerable to closures. Prior to the outbreak, one in five rural hospitals was at risk of closure. Now, facing losses at times larger than half
of monthly expected revenues due to the postponement of elective surgeries and increased operating costs, hundreds of rural hospitals are on the brink of closure. This unprecedented strain on the American health care system has pushed the already razor-thin
budgets of many rural hospitals and clinics to the point of financial insolvency.
On top of the financial crisis facing rural providers, experts project that the epidemiological peak of COVID-19 for rural areas will occur later than peaks in large urban centers. Rural hospitals and clinics, which are already feeling the strain of this
public health crisis, will likely face an influx of positive cases as the rest of the country begins flattening the curve. Equitable funding for rural clinics and hospitals is crucial to their ability to respond, especially considering rural patients are on
average older and more likely to have comorbidities than their urban counterparts.
In light of these concerns, we ask that HHS set aside at least 20% of the funding allocated to healthcare providers in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act for rural facilities. In America, a zip code should not determine one’s
ability to access high quality health care—especially at a time when access to care can be a matter of life or death. Allocating an adequate and proportional amount directly to rural areas would help ensure equity in the distribution of this federal aid.
On behalf of the 60 million Americans currently living in rural areas, thank you for your consideration and attention to the survival of rural hospitals and clinics.
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0