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Hospitals wrangle with fractured federal COVID-19 support system

For not-for-profit hospitals that do see important influxes of COVID-19 sufferers, reimbursement is offered via states by way of the Federal Emergency Administration Company. The CARES Act bolstered FEMA’s Catastrophe Reduction Fund by $45 billion. However the funds will transfer far more slowly than the grants and Medicare advances, and are restricted to make use of for healthcare-related bills.

“They’re really opposite approaches. The CARES funds were just based on HHS depositing money and providers being asked about compliance and documentation, and FEMA is reimbursing expenses,” stated Robert Reeves, companion at EY.

Stamford (Conn.) Well being had seen round 100 COVID-19 sufferers as of early Might, and the hospital is monitoring funds for FEMA reimbursement. In getting ready for its surge, Stamford incurred bills to rework hospital area into further intensive-care models, recommission an outdated hospital constructing, display screen staff for COVID-19 and home quarantined staff in addition to to purchase private protecting gear.

“We are tracking costs right now. It’s an ongoing process, but nothing beyond what we are capable of pulling together,” stated Stamford CFO Michael Veillette.

Nick Diamond, a marketing consultant at Avalere, stated although FEMA prolonged the deadline to use for funds, it is smart for suppliers to shortly give states discover that they plan to request funding. Requests might be up to date later if wants change. The COVID-19 pandemic is a unique catastrophe than the floods and hurricanes FEMA sometimes responds to, and the pandemic’s severity can range over time in numerous areas.

“The current situation is unique. FEMA has a decent amount of discretion in the prescribed funding bucket to make use of disaster relief,” Diamond stated.

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Small hospitals that didn’t see a surge in COVID-19 sufferers however noticed income nosedive as a consequence of a discount in elective procedures had the choice to use for small-business help offered within the CARES Act. Rural hospitals efficiently lobbied to permit community-owned hospitals to get grant funds when the forgivable small-business loan program was refilled in April.

Paycheck Safety Program loans might be forgiven if the hospitals use at the least 75% of the cash for payroll prices, together with retaining or shortly rehiring staff and sustaining wage ranges. The remaining can be utilized to pay mortgages, lease and utilities.

Jones stated Magnolia Regional labored with a neighborhood bank to get a small-business loan in April. The forgivable loan allowed Jones to carry again staff from furlough, and doubled the hospital’s cash available. “Our ability to sleep at night improved tremendously,” Jones stated.

Neosho stated that as of early Might it was nonetheless working via the PPP utility course of and gathering information, because the hospital didn’t qualify for this system earlier than regulators tweaked the principles to permit some rural hospitals to use.

However solely very small hospitals certified for this system. Pullman Regional Hospital, which has 25 whole beds, narrowly didn’t qualify for the PPP loan as a result of primary- care and specialty practices owned by the hospital boosted Pullman’s worker depend above the 500-employee threshold.

Oliver Smith

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