SCHUMER PUSHES FOR UPSTATE NY & HUDSON VALLEY HOSPITALS TO BE REIMBURSED FOR COST OF PREPARING FOR EBOLA THREAT – EVERY NYS HOSPITAL, INCLUDING DESIGNATED EBOLA TREATMENT CENTERS IN BUFFALO, ROCHESTER, SYRACUSE & WESTCHESTER WENT TO GREAT LENGTHS & SPENT OVER $10M TO TRAIN STAFF, RETROFIT FACILITIES, PURCHASE HAZMAT SUITS
Within Next Two Weeks, HHS Secretary Will Decide How To Spend $700M That Is Now Available For Domestic Ebola Response & Hospital Reimbursement – Since There Is No Formula For How Money Will Be Spent, Schumer Urges That Upstate & Hudson Valley Hospitals Be Reimbursed; 5 NYS-Designated Ebola Treatment Centers Spent Approx. $4M & All Other Hospitals Around The State Spent on Average $40K Each to Comply With NYS Regs
Once Called to Action, U. Of Roch Med Center, Erie Co. Med Center, Women & Children’s Hospital, Upstate University Hospital & Westchester Med Center Meticulously Trained Thousands of Health Workers on How to Identify & Treat Potential Ebola Patients & Purchased New Equipment, like PPE Suits
Schumer: The Readiness of Upstate NY & Hudson Valley Hospitals for Handling Ebola is Critical to the Nation & Comes At a High Price
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today, on a conference call with reporters, pushed for Upstate New York’s and the Hudson Valley’s hospitals, including five designated Ebola Treatment Centers – Upstate University Hospital, University of Rochester Medical Center, Erie County Medical Center, Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, and Westchester Medical Center – not to be left behind to shoulder the over $10 million cost of preparing for the Ebola crisis. Schumer called for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure that all of New York’s hospitals are not overlooked when using new appropriations funding to reimburse hospitals across the country. Schumer explained that the recently-passed Fiscal Year 2015 Omnibus budget bill included more than $5.4 billion in new funding for the Ebola response, $700 million of which HHS Secretary Burwell will determine how to spend in the next two weeks. Schumer explained that the HHS Secretary has discretion on how to spend this funding, and it can be used in a variety of ways, including vaccine development, reimbursement of hospitals that treated Ebola patients, reimbursement for renovations, training and other work at designated Ebola treatment centers, and more. However, given the fact that there is no formula on how to divide this money, Schumer urged Secretary Burwell to ensure that the five designated Ebola treatment centers be reimbursed for the close to $4 million they spent, and that all other New York State hospitals, which spent an average of $40,000 each on training and equipment to comply with New York State health regulations, be reimbursed too.
“New York’s Ebola Treatment Centers and all of the state’s hospitals quickly and meticulously answered the call of duty to handle the Ebola threat by training thousands of healthcare workers, preparing isolation units, purchasing new equipment and more, and they cannot be left behind when it comes to being reimbursed for this critical, but expensive work,” said Schumer. “Securing over $700 million in Ebola funding for the Department of Health and Human Services was only the first step, and now I am urging Secretary Burwell to ensure that New York’s hospitals be prioritized as a plan is developed for how this money will be spent. Even though these facilities have not treated an Ebola patient, the costs of being prepared have been extremely high in order to ready for a potential patient.”
Schumer noted that the five New York State-designated Ebola Treatment Centers – Upstate University Hospital, University of Rochester Medical Center, Erie County Medical Center, Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, and Westchester Medical Center – meticulously trained thousands of health workers on how to treat and identify Ebola, purchased new equipment, like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits, retrofitted parts of their facilities and designated isolation units for Ebola. Upstate University’s capital costs preparing for Ebola are between $1.2 and $1.6 million, University of Rochester’s costs could go as high as $2.9 million, Erie County Medical Center’s costs are approximately $200,000, Women and Children’s Hospital’s costs are approximately $500,000, and Westchester Medical Center’s costs are approximately $800,000. In addition, Upstate New York’s other 82 hospitals spent an average of $25,000 to $40,000 each on equipment and training to comply with emergency protocols instituted by the New York State Department of Health.
Schumer said that the recently-passed Omnibus budget bill provides a top-line national budget for Ebola, and it is not intended to be split evenly amongst all states, but rather there is funding that can be provided to states like New York, Nebraska, Maryland and others that handled Ebola directly.
“HANYS is working arm in arm with Senator Schumer, urging HHS and CDC to swiftly allocate federal Ebola funding to all of New York’s designated treatment centers, reflecting the true costs of intensive preparedness and treatment,” said Dennis P. Whalen, President of the Healthcare Association of New York State. “Federal support should also be directed to all hospitals achieving a basic level of preparedness.”
“While the Ebola headlines have largely faded, the costs of Ebola preparedness have not,” said Greater New York Hospital Association presidentKenneth E. Raske. “Any one of New York’s Ebola treatment centers may be called into action in a moment’s notice, and they continue to incur enormous ongoing Ebola training, plant, and equipment expenses. It is essential that HHS’ funding formula includes appropriate reimbursement for these critically important frontline facilities, and I applaud Senator Schumer for his leadership.”
“The University of Rochester Medical Center is proud to have been one of the first facilities designated by New York State to treat Ebola patients. In recent months, we have undergone preparations to make sure Rochester and western New York is prepared to treat patients if needed, which has come at a significant and unplanned cost to URMC,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO, University of Rochester Medical Center. “We are grateful to Senator Schumer for urging HHS to provide reimbursement to upstate New York Hospitals, including Strong Memorial, that have made substantial efforts to train staff and purchase the necessary equipment to ensure our community is prepared to respond to this crisis.”
Upstate University Hospital, University of Rochester Medical Center, Erie County Medical Center, Women and Children’s Hospital, and Westchester Medical Center are on the list of 11 designated New York Ebola Treatment Centers. Upstate University Hospital spent $1.2-$1.6 million on planning, training and capital expenditures and still has recurring training costs running about $50K a month. University of Rochester Medical Center has spent $660,000 to date and in addition would incur costs of over $1 million per month if Ebola patients were admitted; URMC would also seek federal reimbursement of up to an additional $2.75M to purchase and install a trailer. Erie County Medical Center spent approximately $200,000 on modifications to the patient floor in the Emergency Room and converting two rooms on a nursing unit to provide the proper segregation for a quarantined patient. Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo spent approximately $500,000 on renovating rooms in the ER to handle segregated Ebola patients. Westchester Medical Center spent approximately $800,000 on a containment room, protective gear and testing equipment. In addition, all of the other hospitals in the state not designated as Ebola treatment centers spent on average $40,000 each to purchase new equipment and conduct training that was needed in order to comply with emergency safety protocols instituted by the New York State Department of Health.
The FY15 Omnibus spending bill includes the following funding for domestic preparedness of Ebola that could potentially be used for New York’s hospitals:
Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund will receive $733M, which is available until Sept. 2019, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to Ebola domestically or internationally, and to develop necessary medical countermeasures and vaccines including the development and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, necessary medical supplies, and administrative activities. These funds may be used for the renovation and alteration of privately owned facilities to improve preparedness and response capability at the State and local level. This fund includes money for the Hospital Preparedness Program and Ebola Treatment Centers, including for the use of PPE purchase and training. A significant part of this fund will be allocated at the discretion of the Secretary.
Schumer recently called HHS Secretary Burwell to push for a significant portion of these funds to be allocated to New York State hospitals, andtomorrow he will send a letter along with a number of members of the New York State congressional delegation urging Secretary Burwell once more to provide the funding that New York’s hospitals need to recover.
Schumer previously pushed for the creation of an ‘Ebola Contingency Fund’ that would operate like the CDC’s federal isolation and quarantine fund for Tuberculosis within the Division of Global Migration, which sets aside federal funding for states and localities to be reimbursed for the treatment of tuberculosis patients and to contain the threat. Schumer noted two pots of funding that will be made available for the long term, through September 2019: 1.) CDC funding of $1.77 billion for preparedness, transportation, medical care, treatment, and other related costs, and 2.) the Department of Health and Human Services Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund of $733M to prevent, prepare for, and respond to Ebola domestically or internationally, and to develop necessary medical countermeasures and vaccines including the development and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, necessary medical supplies, and administrative activities.
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