U.S. Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler announced Friday that $792 million in funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be directed to Georgia hospitals and health care providers enrolled in Medicare. The funding is expected to go to more than 8,000 providers and health systems in Georgia.
These funds, authorized through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability (CARES) Act, will be used to treat coronavirus patients and aid in the fight against COVID-19. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, part of the hospital stimulus funds will go to paying providers Medicare rates for COVID-19 treatment for uninsured patients. As a condition of reimbursement, hospitals cannot balance bill uninsured patients for COVID-19-related care, Secretary Azar said. This means that the facilities cannot bill patients beyond the Medicare reimbursement, so uninsured patients will not be billed for COVID-19 treatment.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, roughly 3.5 million American workers have already lost employer-sponsored healthcare coverage due to COVID-19.
“Georgia’s medical providers are currently on the frontlines of one of the most serious public health emergencies in our nation’s history,” Senator Perdue said in a news release. “This crisis has put severe financial strain on local hospitals, and many in rural areas are quickly running out of cash for supplies and payroll. This funding will help stabilize hospitals across our state so providers can stay focused on what matters most: the health and safety of their patients.”
The funding is also part of the stimulus package provision increasing Medicare reimbursement rates for COVID-19 hospitalizations by 20 percent during the emergency period.
Meadows Regional Medical Center in Toombs County made headlines last week as it was announced that employees would be taking temporary pay cuts and others would be temporarily furloughed amid a funding crisis. Hospitals of all sizes have been struggling due to the suspension of elective and outpatient surgeries – a steady and larger revenue stream for facilities.
“Our first and main line of defense against the coronavirus is our hospitals, health care facilities and medical professionals,” said Senator Loeffler. “This funding is critical to supporting those on the front lines and keeping Georgians safe and healthy. This is a direct result of our work to pass the CARES Act in Congress and I remain committed to doing everything in my power to get our state the resources it needs throughout this crisis.”
Perdue and Loeffler supported the CARES Act that Congress passed last month. The CARES Act included $100 billion in funding to reimburse hospitals for the care of COVID-19 patients and to make up for lost revenue due to canceling elective surgeries and other procedures. The $792 million for Georgia is a portion of $30 billion in CARES Act funding released Friday by HHS. Perdue and Loeffler sent a letter last week urging HHS to consider rural hospitals when delivering funding.