Rep. Mike Levin Leads Bipartisan Letter with 72 House Colleagues Calling on HHS Sec. Azar to Direct Funds to Community Health Centers and Other Medicaid Providers

April 17, 2020
Press Release

San Juan Capistrano, CA – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Levin (D-CA) led a bipartisan letter with 72 of his House colleagues calling on Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to direct more relief funding to Community Health Centers (CHCs) and other Medicaid providers to cover unreimbursed health care related expenses or lost revenues attributable to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, HHS has $100 billion in federal funds to distribute for health care providers, but the first $30 billion was distributed based on providers’ share of 2019 Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursements, leaving health care providers with low Medicare volumes without the funding they need.

“We appreciate that hospitals on the front lines of this crisis received a large share of this desperately needed funding,” Levin and his colleagues wrote. “However, health care providers in our districts with low Medicare volumes – including community health centers (CHCs), children’s hospitals, and certain nonprofit health care providers– have also been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 emergency… We express our support for swiftly allocating the next tranche of funds based on Medicaid volumes. Our providers cannot wait any longer for relief.”

“We want to thank Congressman Levin for his continued support of community health centers like Vista Community Clinic (VCC), with clinics in San Diego, Riverside and Orange County, California, which serve over 70,000 low-income patients and have 280,000 patient visits yearly,” said VCC CEO Fernando M. Sanudo. “Without Congressman’s Levin support to direct HHS Secretary Azar to distribute the $100B fund from the CARES Act to health care providers, Including community health centers, VCC, like the other 1400 CHCs in the country, will be forced to close many of our clinics. CHCs desperately need HHS Secretary Azar to direct $7.6 billion from the $100B intended for health care providers to keep all of our clinic doors open, save over 100,000 jobs, and so that we can continue to serve 29 million of our highest risk Medicaid and uninsured patients throughout the country.”

Click here or see below for the full letter to Sec. Azar:

April 17, 2020

The Honorable Alex M. Azar II

Secretary Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Azar,

Thank you for your department’s efforts to distribute the $100 billion fund provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for health care providers. We urge you to support Medicaid providers in the next tranche of funds to cover unreimbursed health care related expenses or lost revenues attributable to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The CARES Act specifies that this funding should benefit all types of health care providers including hospitals, public entities, nonprofit entities, and Medicare and Medicaid enrolled suppliers and institutional providers. On April 10, 2020, your department began distributing an initial $30 billion from this fund based on providers’ share of 2019 Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) reimbursements. 

We appreciate that hospitals on the front lines of this crisis received a large share of this desperately needed funding. However, health care providers in our districts with low Medicare volumes – including community health centers (CHCs), children’s hospitals, and certain nonprofit health care providers– have also been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 emergency. 

These providers desperately need more financial support to continue caring for our underserved communities. It is estimated that over the next six months due to COVID-19, CHCs will complete 34 million fewer regular appointments, leading to losses of $7.6 billion in revenue and 100,500 jobs.1 Meanwhile, they are experiencing or preparing for a surge of patients requiring testing and treatment for COVID-19. While we support additional appropriations to meet these needs, we must ensure they receive their fair share of existing funds in the near term.

Your department has stated that it intends to distribute the remaining $70 billion based on other criteria, including “providers of services with lower shares of Medicare reimbursement or who predominantly serve the Medicaid population.” We express our support for swiftly allocating the next tranche of funds based on Medicaid volumes. Our providers cannot wait any longer for relief. 

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

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