Casey, Scanlon Lead Push for Answers from HHS & CMS on COVID-19 Funds

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Today, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon and Senator Bob Casey led a group of members of the Pennsylvania delegation to express concern as to how the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are choosing to allocate the first $30 billion of the Public Health and Social Services Relief Fund created under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

This letter, also signed by Representatives Brendan Boyle, Dwight Evans, Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan, Susan Wild, Matt Cartwright, Mike Doyle, and Connor Lamb, addresses the urgency and need for this aid in Pennsylvania.

“With Pennsylvania hospitals losing upwards of $1.5 billion a month, your effort to distribute CARES Act funding to providers quickly is appreciated,” the lawmakers wrote. “Future funds should continue to be released expeditiously so that our providers can provide uninterrupted, high-quality service during this historic time. That said, we urge changes in how you determine funding allotments as the allocation of the first $30 billion disadvantages Pennsylvania and many of our key providers in several ways.”

This letter broke down three key areas of concern.

  1. By allocating funding solely based on Medicare claims, the administration is unfairly disadvantaging safety-net hospitals, nursing homes, home care providers, and health centers that serve our most at-risk constituents and are funded through Medicaid.
  2. Pennsylvania has a high penetration of Medicare Advantage throughout the Commonwealth. Failure to account for that, though it could have easily been done with the data available to you, means Pennsylvania providers will receive less funding initially than their counterparts in other states that rely more on traditional fee-for-service Medicare.
  3. Pennsylvania has several world-renowned children’s hospitals who are struggling just as much as our acute care hospitals due to the cancellation of elective surgeries and other important policies put in place to bend the curve and address the COVID-19 pandemic. These providers, and the care they provide for our children, cannot be an afterthought.

“We understand that you plan to address these discrepancies through future allocations of the $100 billion provided under the CARES Act and will seek to achieve rough parity — fairness in this case cannot simply be a goal, it is imperative that you achieve it,” the lawmakers continued. “Through this funding, Pennsylvania has received approximately $50,000 per COVID patient, while other states have received over $300,000 per COVID patient. To promote one group of providers over another or groups of states over others is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Mary Gay Scanlon currently serves a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District.