12.21.21

FOLLOWING SCHUMER’S VISIT AND DIRECT ADVOCACY, WYOMING COUNTY COMMUNITY HOSPITAL AWARDED OVER $1.8 MILLION TO COMBAT RECENT SURGE OF COVID-19, COVER RISING COSTS, AND KEEP THE WESTERN NY COMMUNITY SAFE

Schumer Visited Wyoming County To Call On Feds To Reevaluate WNY Growing COVID Crisis & Get $$ Out Quickly To Where It’s Most Needed

Now, After Schumer’s Push, Wyoming County Community Hospital Has Received Over $1.8M In Pandemic Relief To Help Just In Time For The Harsh Winter Months

Schumer To Wyoming County: Help Is On The Way!

Following his visit to push for struggling Western New York hospitals to get the help they need, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced the federal government has heeded his call and that Wyoming County Community Hospital has received $1,836,381 from the next round of the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) created by the CARES Act.  Earlier this month Wyoming County declared a state of emergency in an effort to fight back against a rise in COVID-19 cases and variants like Omicron. Schumer said that this new funding will help Wyoming County Community Hospital combat the spread of COVID-19, cover rising costs, and ensure they have the resources to keep the community safe.

“Western New York hospitals are on the frontlines battling the many variants of COVID, I saw firsthand the tremendous need for assistance in my visit to Wyoming County last week and promised I would fight to get this money out quickly. Now, I am proud to deliver over $1.8 million in federal assistance for the Wyoming County Community Hospital to help them continue their essential work to keep our community safe,” said Senator Schumer. “As majority leader, I am proud to have championed multiple COVID-19 relief bills including the American Rescue Plan which provided these pandemic relief funds and I will continue to fight to ensure our hospitals and communities have all the help they need to stop the spread and meet the rising demand as we enter the winter months.”

Joseph McTernan, CEO of the Wyoming County Community Health System  said, “We are extremely grateful to Senator Schumer for his advocacy in helping secure this funding for WCCH. With COVID infection rates again spiking in our community, we need all hands on deck to both care for the increasing number of patients being admitted for care while addressing the burden of increased costs required to provide this care. We appreciate Senator Schumer’s support for significantly impacted hospitals like WCCH to access this critical relief funding as we continue to navigate the pandemic and serve the community.”

Senator Schumer has delivered over $13.5 billion in grant funding to NY hospitals and providers through the Provider Relief Fund alone with billions more still awaiting to be disbursed. In addition, the Senator has secured tens of billions of dollars in much-needed relief including through various legislation and programs that delivered low-cost loans to providers, staved off potentially disastrous federal cuts to Medicare payments and increased payments to the New York Medicaid program that have helped NYS from instituting drastic cuts in provider reimbursements and consumer benefits. 

In the April 2020 CARES Act, Schumer led the charge in Congress to create the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) - managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - with to provide funding to healthcare providers and hospitals caring for patients with COVID-19 and who suffered high expenses and lost revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Although initially funded at $100 billion, Schumer led the charge in Congress further to successfully add an additional $86.5 billion to the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) throughout the last year through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enactment Act, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 and the American Rescue Plan.

A copy of Schumer’s original letter to HHS appears below:

Dear Secretary Becerra,

I write to request that the Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) take into consideration the uptick in COVID-19 cases in certain areas of the country such as Western New York and the Finger Lakes Region when calculating the payments to providers that will be made in the upcoming General Distribution from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF). Hospitals and providers in this area, such as Wyoming County Community Hospital, are working day and night to care for patients amid intense financial pressures and need this funding in order to deal with the increase in COVID-19 cases that are crowding their hospital beds. I also ask that these funds be made swiftly; New York providers – especially those in Upstate New York – cannot be made to wait for this direly needed relief.

As you well know, New York has suffered huge losses during the course of this pandemic. While a robust vaccination and testing program has kept the state from reliving the worst of the pandemic’s early days, parts of the state continue to experience high levels of coronavirus caseloads. As of December 10th, 2021, the three counties in New York with the highest daily average number COVID-19 cases per 100,000 are all found in Western New York: Orleans (103), Wyoming (103), Genesee (100). The caseloads in these counties and other areas of New York have increased to such a high level, that 32 hospitals across the state report having 10% or less of available bed capacity open to admit new patients. Due to these critical conditions, New York State has mandated that these hospitals suspend elective procedures until bed capacity improves. The combination of high costs associated with treating COVID-19 patients and the loss of high-revenue-producing elective procedures is damaging the financial health of hospitals such as Wyoming County Community Hospital and highlighted the need for more federal support through programs like the Provider Relief Fund.

In the April 2020 CARES Act, Congress created the PRF with an initial $100 billion in support for providers caring for patients with COVID-19 and who suffered high expenses and lost revenues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Congress further supplemented the fund with an additional $86.5 billion over the next year through the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enactment Act, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 and the American Rescue Plan.

As of December 10th, 2021, your Department has sent out over $130 billion in funding from the PRF across three phases of General Distributions and eight targeted allocations, the most recent being the $8.5 billion in American Rescue Plan’s Rural payments. These General Distributions were made using various formulas based on revenues and losses reported in past years’ Medicare and Medicaid cost reporting, tax filings and other financial information. The targeted allocations were based on a wider variety of factors including in some cases the level of COVID-19 admissions at a hospital provider.

In September 2021, HHS announced that up to $17 billion would be made available in a new PRF General Distribution and solicited applications from providers across the country for this funding. The information collected in these applications to develop the formula that will calculate these General Distribution payments once again only considered past tax filings, cost reporting data and other financial information. It does not consider the rising levels of COVID-19 in hard-hit areas such as Upstate New York.

In light of the ongoing increase in COVID-19 cases, I ask that your Department refer to its past practices at the height of the pandemic and incorporate data into the General Distribution formula that captures the enormous burdens placed on providers who are treating patients and saving lives in areas with high rates of COVID-19 cases. I also call on the Department to make these determinations swiftly and distribute the funds as soon as possible. Providers like Wyoming County Community Hospital need these funds now, and communities like those in Western New York cannot afford to wait any longer.

I thank you and your Department for your excellent service during this crisis.

Sincerely,

 

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