Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) joined Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06) in sending a bipartisan letter to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, expressing concern regarding the updated Provider Relief Fund (PRF) reporting requirements.
Specifically, the letter asks for current guidance to be revised before June 30, 2021, when hundreds of rural providers will be forced to return their portion of the PRF to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
“In March 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which appropriated funds to reimburse eligible health care providers for health care-related expenses or lost revenues attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the lawmakers. “The resulting PRF has assisted providers fighting the coronavirus, but many in rural America are not able to use their allocations as Congress intended.”
The lawmakers continued, “Since 2010, 138 rural hospitals have closed their doors, with more than twenty occurring in 2020, at the peak of the pandemic. It is unfathomable that a significant portion of this lifeline designed by Congress to support struggling providers will ultimately be returned to Treasury, instead of helping rural communities.”
Lucas supported the CARES Act which appropriated funds to reimburse eligible health care providers for health care-related expenses or lost revenues attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic through the PRF.
Reporting requirements released on June 11, 2021 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not include exceptions for rural providers that would ensure the funding provides required stability. This will have a detrimental impact specifically on Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), and rural Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs).
Read the letter to Secretary Becerra here.