May 06,2020

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Wyden, Pallone Slam Trump Admin For Excluding Medicaid Providers From COVID-19 Relief Fund

Top Health Care Democrats Call for HHS to Send Funds to Medicaid-focused Providers

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., called on the Trump administration to address the lack of financial relief for Medicaid providers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The two Committee leaders voiced concerns that, to date, roughly $70 billion has been distributed to health care providers under the CARES Act in a way that discriminates against Medicaid-dependent health care providers. 

“HHS’s continued neglect for the needs of Medicaid-dependent providers struggling to deal with the COVID-19 crisis is unacceptable,” the members wrote. “The country is in the middle of a pandemic. The Medicaid program is a first responder, and the providers it relies on must be treated with equity. At a bare minimum that should include expeditious access to the [provider fund] as intended by Congress. 

The Provider Relief Fund that Congress created as a part of the CARES Act, within the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF), was intended to support health care providers including those who participate in Medicare and Medicaid. However, to date only Medicare-enrolled providers have been able to access funds, and these funds are being allocated according to a methodology that rewards providers with high levels of privately-insured individuals while providers supporting the safety net are left waiting. This imbalance discriminates against critical health care providers that primarily service the Medicaid population, such as frontline hospitals, nursing homes and home-based providers, behavioral health providers, maternal health care providers and pediatricians.

In the letter, sent to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, Wyden and Pallone called on the Trump administration to describe how much funding will go to Medicaid-dependent providers and the steps it has taken to understand the needs of these providers during the pandemic.

The full letter is available here.