07.16.20

SCHUMER REVEALS: AFTER MONTHS OF FIGHTING PANDEMIC ON THE FRONTLINES PUTNAM HOSPITAL STRAPPED FOR CASH & OVERLOOKED BY FEDS FOR MILLIONS IN CRITICAL RECOVERY $$$ FOR PPE, TESTING, & MORE DUE TO BUREAUCRATIC GUIDELINES; SCHUMER CALLS ON FEDS TO IMMEDIATELY GIVE PUTNAM HOSPITAL THEIR FAIR SHARE

COVID-19 Costs and Cancellation of Elective Procedures Left Putnam Hospital Strapped for Cash & Over $21M in Lost Revenue; Even After Nearly Ten Rounds of Schumer-Secured Emergency Funding, Putnam Hospital Has Received Less Funding Compared To Other Hudson Valley Providers 

~$60B Of Emergency Funding Schumer Negotiated For Hospitals in CARES Act & ‘Corona 3.5’ Remains Unspent By HHS; Yet, Administration Hasn’t Announced Plans to Help Hospitals Left Out of Past Rounds of Funding, Putting Putnam Hospital & Its Heroic Employees In Limbo 

Schumer to HHS: HV Healthcare Workers Are Still Fighting On the Frontlines, They Shouldn’t Have To Fight To Now Stay Afloat Too

Standing with officials from Putnam County’s only hospital, Putnam Hospital in Carmel, New York, today U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to immediately deliver emergency funding to provide critical support to the front line doctors, nurses, staff, and communities surrounding the Putnam Hospital. For months the hospital has been overlooked by HHS in its arbitrary and unfair distribution of additional emergency relief funding from the $175 billion Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (Provider Relief Fund) that Senator Schumer championed in his negotiations of the CARES Act.

Specifically, Schumer called on HHS to create a new distribution formula to make up for its arbitrary formulas that failed to provide Putnam Hospital, and other hard-hit New York hospitals, with much-needed emergency aid from the HHS Provider Relief Fund. Schumer explained that, back in April, every hospital received an initial general allocation from the HHS Provider Relief Fund, but as time went on and COVID cases surged across the Hudson Valley many hospitals began receiving specialized emergency funding from the Provider Relief Fund. Despite other hospitals located within the Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester County region receiving an average of $36,122,424 in specialized funding during a May 7, 2020 HHS “Hot Spot” funding round, the dedicated staff at Putnam Hospital waited patiently for any sign of additional relief while hard at work caring for roughly 300 patients with COVID-19. During this time the hospital experienced unprecedented budget shortfalls with $21,395,814 in losses between March and June compared to the same time last year, even taking Putnam Hospital’s initial $3M general payment into account.

Schumer said that compared to the $3,069,000 that Putnam Hospital had received thus far as of June 9, 2020, from the HHS Provider Relief Fund, the 19 other hospitals previously mentioned have received an average of $43,611,611 in funding thus far. When Senator Schumer discovered that Putnam Hospital, and nearly two-dozen others, were shortchanged and had not received any specialized funding after waiting for months because of arbitrary HHS policies, he immediately called on HHS to deliver these critical funds to Putnam Hospital with all due speed.

“The doctors, nurses, and staff at Putnam Hospital have made incredible sacrifices throughout this pandemic, putting public health above profit and working ceaselessly to help the Hudson Valley beat back the virus and flatten the curve,” said Senator Schumer. “Despite these incredible sacrifices, Putnam Hospital has not yet seen its fair share of federal emergency aid that I specifically negotiated into the CARES Act and fought for in the Interim ‘Corona 3.5’ package for them. If HHS saw the months of tireless work that has taken place at Putnam Hospital, they would know right away that they need to reassess their arbitrary formula that that has left employees with dwindling PPE, testing kits, and other critical resources that are needed on the frontlines.”

Schumer explained that a lack of federal support from HHS has forced the hospital to take on extra costs that could have been alleviated by the HHS Provider Relief Fund. They have spent over $500,000 to obtain PPE, supplies, and other critical equipment, were forced to stop capital spending and defer expenses, and spent a significant amount outfitting the hospital to provide a safe environment to treat COVID-19 patients.

“Putnam Hospital has not received a substantial payment from the HHS Provider Relief Fund since April all while some of our neighboring hospitals down the road have gotten millions. Our dedicated nurses, doctors, and staff have worked around the clock for months to care for our patients and additional resources to support them will go a long way as we continue to fight this pandemic each day here in Putnam County,” said Peter Kelly, President of Putnam Hospital. “We thank Senator Schumer for fighting to get Putnam Hospital the funding that we need to protect our workers and deliver the highest level of care to our patients.”

In the latest specialized funding round announced by HHS on Friday, Putnam Hospital was once again overlooked while positive coronavirus cases rose in Putnam County over the past two weeks. Yesterday there were at least 6 new positive cases in Putnam County according to New York State data. New York still has the highest recorded number of coronavirus cases in the nation with over 407,000 confirmed cases, including about 70,000 cases in the Hudson Valley region. Employees at Putnam Hospital have continued to express concerns surrounding the need for additional funding for PPE and testing kits.

Schumer was the lead author and architect of the ‘Marshall Plan for Healthcare’, in the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enactment Act, securing in negotiations $175 billion in support and relief for the health care system. Of the $175 billion total, HHS has so far distributed over $100 billion in 5 separate tranches, including funding targeted at hospitals in COVID-19 hotspot areas, rural hospitals, and safety net hospitals, with more expected imminently. The Senator said he is calling on HHS to use the remaining funds in the Provider Relief Fund to ensure that every hospital in New York State receives sufficient funding.

Senator Schumer’s letter to HHS Secretary Azar appears below.

Dear Honorable Sec. Azar,

I write to request that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) develop and distribute a new tranche from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) for providers that would support those hospitals in New York State, including Putnam Hospital which is the only hospital in Putnam County, New York, that were not aided by the previous specialized tranches targeted at hospitals in COVID-19 hotspot areas, rural hospitals and safety net hospitals with all due speed.

As you know, New York State has and continues to suffer enormously during the coronavirus pandemic. For months, New York was the global epicenter of the crisis with new cases hitting over 10,000 a day at one point. Though making large strides onto the road to recovery, New York still has the highest recorded number of coronavirus cases at over 407,000 and over 32,000 COVID-related deaths over double the number of any other state. As a result of this incredible suffering, New York now faces one of the most challenging public health and economic crises in recent history. In New York’s Hudson Valley Region, where Putnam Hospital is located, there have been approximately 70,000 cases of coronavirus and over 2,740 COVID-related deaths. (NYT 2020). In fact, yesterday there were at least 6 new positive cases of coronavirus in Putnam County according to New York State.

In April 2020, Congress included $100 billion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES Act) and an additional $75 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enactment Act for the PHSSEF to support providers throughout the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. This appropriation in both pieces of legislation was intended to reimburse providers for “health care related expenses or lost revenues that are attributable to coronavirus.”

As of the July 10th, 2020 your Department has committed $112.4 billion across eight separate tranches. The Department employed a formula to allocate the first $50 billion to Medicare providers based on available data of the providers’ previous year revenue. In this first distribution New York State’s hospitals received over $1.45 billion dollars. Your Department then delivered subsequent tranches that delivered money to hospitals with eligibility and funding levels based on whether they were located in areas with high levels of COVID-19 cases, rural designations, Medicaid providers yet to receive targeted funding and whether they had safety-net status.  In all, 182 hospitals across New York State, hospitals in the state hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, received additional support through these targeted tranches from the provider fund. (Need to fact check all this once we have New York numbers from the latest hotspot and Medicaid tranches)

However, as of July 9th, 2020, these distribution formulas and eligibility standards excluded roughly two dozen hospitals across New York State that suffered enormous financial losses. These hospitals complied with all federal and state protocols and recommendations by forgoing elective procedures and investing heavily in preparation for the COVID-19 pandemic. These sacrifices and proactive measures resulted in tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue and high coronavirus-related expenses. While these losses mirror those incurred by the 182 hospitals captured by the specialized distributions from the provider fund, the two dozen hospitals left out of these distributions suffered these losses for months without further assistance from the fund. Putnam Hospital still has not received funding from any HHS specialized tranche to date, despite HHS allocating a new specialized tranche last Friday. Notably, Putnam Hospital was overlooked in the latest specialized tranche amidst positive coronavirus cases rising in the County over the past two weeks and despite front line hospital workers expressing concerns surrounding a lack of PPE.

Putnam Hospital has lost over $21,395,814 between March and June, even after accounting for the approximately $3 million in funds received from the PHSSEFF. While the hospital has been holding out for as long as possible, the lack of support has forced them to incur extra costs, including spend over $500,000 for PPE, supplies, and equipment. The pressure on cash flow is extremely concerning for Putnam Hospital looking towards as they plan to continue providing high quality care in future months, and even years, during this crisis and in the recovery after.  Putnam Hospital has stopped its capital spending and has had to work to identify expenses that can be immediately deferred. Significant dollars have also been spent on outfitting the hospital to provide safe environment to treat patients.  It is unconscionable that hospitals such as Putnam Hospital, who have treated approximately 300 patients with COVID-19 on the frontlines of this pandemic, should be forced to make these kinds of cuts to investments that would have improved the quality of care provided to its patient community.

I ask that your Department craft a new distribution formula from the PHSSEF provider fund that captures Putnam Hospital and other hospitals that have not been adequately supported by the Department amid this crisis.

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

Sincerely,

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