(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) today joined the full Maryland congressional delegation, including U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John P. Sarbanes, Andy Harris, M.D., Anthony G. Brown, and David Trone, in sending a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar urging him to target future monies from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) toward Maryland hospitals, health care providers, and other health care entities that need them most. These funds will help Maryland providers acquire crucial resources including COVID-19 testing supplies, personal protective equipment, and other medical equipment and supplies. As the Members note, this letter comes as Maryland, and in particular, the Baltimore-Washington Corridor, has been declared an emerging hotspot by the federal government.
The Members write, “we strongly urge you to ensure that all health care entities impacted by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) are able to benefit from these funds with a particular focus on areas hardest hit by this outbreak, as well as rural and underserved areas. Additionally, we believe it is imperative that your department provides maximum transparency around how these funds are being disbursed and which entities are receiving them.”
They highlight how this issue is impacting Maryland, saying, “We have been hearing from hospitals, health care providers, and other health care entities across our state about the significant costs they have been incurring since COVID-19 materialized as a threat. Many have seen their budgets stretched thin by a whole host of previously unanticipated costs, including from purchasing personal protective equipment, testing supplies, or other medical equipment and supplies, adding bed capacity to accommodate additional COVID-19 patients, or through the loss of revenue from the cancellation of elective procedures. The quality and effectiveness of our response and our ability to prevent further spread of the virus will be largely dependent on our ability to ensure that health care providers have the resources they need.”
The Members go on to note that under the CARES Act these funds were meant to go to health facilities and providers that are working to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19. They state, “Therefore, it is disappointing that the formula HHS used to disburse the first tranche of funding did not take into account COVID-related expenses that health care entities have been incurring. We urge you to ensure that this important factor is considered in future disbursements.”
The full text of the letter is available here.