08.19.20

SCHUMER REVEALS: PANDEMIC LEAVES FINGER LAKES HOSPITAL STRAPPED FOR CASH, SADDLED WITH COSTS FOR PPE & TESTING; SENATOR ANNOUNCES THREE-PRONG PLAN TO GET FINANCIALLY-DEVASTATED NY HOSPITALS – LIKE SOLDIERS & SAILORS MEMORIAL HOSPITAL – THEIR FAIR SHARE AND SECURE THEIR SERVICES FOR THE REGION

COVID-19 Costs and Cancellation Of Elective Procedures Left Hospitals Strapped For Cash; Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital Has Already Eliminated 50 Positions And Risk Needing To Eliminate 20 More In The Fall

Schumer Pushes Three-Pronged Plan To Get Hospitals More Federal Support, 1) Pushing For More Funding From Schumer-Created $175 Billion Provider Relief Fund, 2) Calling For Improvements To Medicare Loans Program, & 3) Demanding More Support For COVID-19 Testing 

Schumer: Finger Lakes Healthcare Workers Were Fighting On The Frontlines, They Shouldn’t Have To Fight To Now Stay Afloat Too

Standing with officials from Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital in Yates, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today revealed his three-pronged plan to get sufficient federal support for Soldiers and Sailors and stave off additional layoffs of vital staff who helped the Finger Lakes beat back the COVID-19 peak in New York. First, Schumer pushed for ‘COVID-4’ pandemic relief to contain additional funding for the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (Provider Relief Fund), which would provide additional tranches of funding that would help Soldiers and Sailors. He also called on HHS to quickly allocate the remaining funding they have available for the program, roughly $60 billion in total. Second, the senator called for improvements to be made to Medicare Advanced and Accelerated Payments, which are loans that help hospitals with cash flow, but have such onerous interest rates and repayment terms that it will severely hurt hospitals in the long run. Third, Schumer additional testing dollars in COVID-4, which would providing more federal support for Soldiers and Sailor’s which is now saddled with new costs due to requirements that staff must routinely be tested.

“The doctors, nurses, and staff at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital have made incredible sacrifices throughout this pandemic, putting public health above profit and working ceaselessly to help Yates County and the Finger Lakes beat back the virus and flatten the curve,” said Senator Schumer. “Despite these incredible sacrifices, Soldiers and Sailors has not yet received enough of the federal emergency aid that I specifically negotiated into the CARES Act and fought for in the Interim ‘Corona 3.5’ package for them.”

Schumer argued that his three-pronged plan is necessary as a series of funding issues have plagued Soldiers and Sailors and all the issues must be addressed in order to sufficiently support hospital operations. Additional funding for the Provider Relief Fund is needed because the Hospital is still facing $3 million in losses by the end of the year, despite receiving $3.5 million in HHS’ Rural Hospital tranche of funding. Soldiers and Sailors has also been wary of Medicare Advanced and Accelerated Payments, as the loan program has prohibitively high interest rates and onerous repayment terms that would severely hurt the hospital in the coming months. Finally, the Hospital estimates it will incur $41,000 in unbudgeted testing costs by December, on top of the budget shortage they are already experiencing. As such, Schumer is pushing for additional funding for testing to support the hospital.

Schumer explained that the lack of federal support has forced Finger Lakes Health and Soldiers and Sailors hospital to take on extra costs which they are unsure of how to alleviate, other than through staff cuts. So far, Soldiers and Sailors has been forced to eliminate 50 positions, and anticipate needing to let go of 20 more in the fall if no additional funding is forthcoming. They have spent thousands of dollars 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.

Schumer added, “It will take a multi-tiered approach to ensure Soldiers and Sailors gets the aid they need, which is why I am here today pushing a three-pronged plan to ensure the hospital is able to keep its heroic staff on the job and keep its doors open to continue serving the Finger Lakes Region.”

Schumer’s three point plan calls for the following:

1)    Calling on Congress to provide additional funding for the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund, and calling on the Administration to immediately disperse the roughly $60 billion that remain unallocated

2)    Amending the Medicare loans program to provide more cash flow assistance to hospitals, which carries a punitive 10% interest rate and withholds Medicare payments from hospitals until the balance is paid

3)    Calling on Congress to provide additional resources for testing

Dr. Jose Acevedo, President & CEO of Finger Lakes Health said, “We are grateful to Senator Schumer for his service and for visiting Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital. It is our privilege to serve our community, as part of Finger Lakes Health, and especially as a federally-deemed Critical Access Hospital. I am so proud of our staff and providers who have demonstrated compassion, care, expertise, and dedication while caring for patients and residents during this global pandemic. There have been significant cost burdens which we have experienced associated with this pandemic, including the significant costs for personal protective equipment, screening and testing employees and other measures. We appreciate Senator’s Schumer’s and other legislators’ work on behalf of healthcare providers to advocate for relief as we focus on the critical mission to care for our communities.

Finger Lakes Health's facilities are spread throughout the Finger Lakes and include two hospitals (Soldiers & Sailors and Geneva General Hospital), four long term care facilities, eight primary care physician practices, an ambulatory surgery center, two Urgent Care locations, and six specialty care practices. 

As the lead author and architect of the ‘Marshall Plan for Healthcare,’ Schumer has advocated for hospitals and hospital funding throughout the pandemic. He secured in negotiations $175 billion in support and relief for the health care system in the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enactment Act, $100 billion in Medicare loans, $25 billion in funds for testing, and so far delivered billions for hospitals across the country on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle.

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