Hospitals ask HHS to quickly distribute relief aid, increase flexibility for its use

The American Hospital Association is asking HHS' Health Resources and Services Administration to quickly distribute $25.5 billion in COVID-19 aid and reverse a new requirement that changes how the funds can be used. 

The AHA said that quickly distributing the funds is particularly urgent because there have not been any distributions made to target expenses and lost revenues after June 30, 2020, and hospitals and health systems are facing workforce, infrastructure and finance woes. 

The AHA also is urging HRSA to reverse a change to how recipients can use provider relief funds. In particular, HRSA announced that in order for the costs of a capital project to be expensed, it must be fully completed by the use-of-funds deadline. 

The AHA said this change, made Aug. 30, is "extremely challenging." It cited several reasons, including that it is difficult for hospitals to complete large capital projects amid the pandemic and that many hospitals already submitted their reports on how the funding was used when HRSA made the change. 

"We strongly urge HRSA to reverse this change," the AHA said. "Further, we ask that it avoid making such wide-ranging modifications, which are announced late in the process (after many providers have already submitted their reporting), refute prior guidance, and disadvantage the most vulnerable hospitals, in the future."

The AHA also asked HRSA to establish an ongoing exception process where hospitals can request reporting deadline extensions for the funds and asked the administration to revise guidance to enable providers to retain access to the funds received through the end of the public health emergency. 


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