SYRACUSE, N.Y. — U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.) on Monday urged the federalgovernment to provide additional funding for hospitals that haven’t met certain criteria for COVID-19 relief funding.
Crouse Hospital and St. Joseph’s Health Hospital, both of Syracuse, are among those hospitals.
“Crouse and St. Joe’s have gotten some, but they haven’t gotten their fair share because they have fallen between the bureaucratic cracks,” Schumer said in his remarks at a stop in Syracuse. “The legislation gives them the money, but the way it’s being distributed by Health and Human Services penalizes these two fine hospitals.”
Schumer is urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop and distribute a new pool of funding (or tranche) from the Public Health Services and Support Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) which would provide “critical” support to hospitals and providers that have been left behind in recent HHS COVID-19 emergency funding rounds.
Schumer said that despite successfully negotiating for necessary hospital funding in the CARES Act for hot spot and rural hospitals, Crouse and St. Joseph’s did not receive any funding from these targeted tranches, though they lost just as much revenue as other providers and throughout New York state. CARES Act is short for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
Schumer appeared Monday at the Marley Education Center at 765 Irving Ave. in Syracuse, near Crouse Hospital.
Crouse and St. Joseph’s finances
Crouse Hospital currently has just 43 days of cash on hand and is expected to lose about $20 million by the end of the year, per a release from Schumer’s office. During the height of the pandemic, the hospital was losing $300,000 per day. To date, Crouse Hospital has received $8 million from HHS, but much more funding is needed to fill the remaining $10 million budget gap.
Crouse currently has 180 employees furloughed, Kimberly Boynton, president and CEO of Crouse Health, told reporters following Schumer’s remarks.
Similarly, Schumer noted, St. Joseph’s Hospital has received $11 million from HHS, but with projected losses of $40 million, the health-care provider has been forced to lay off staff and close some facilities.
In March, the state mandated that hospitals cancel elective surgeries and procedures to care for an expected influx of COVID-19 patients.
“Since that has been lifted, it continues to have a significant negative impact on our hospitals,” Boynton said.
As Schumer explained it, special money was allocated for “hot spots,” or hospitals that had a huge number of patients who contracted the coronavirus.
“That did not apply to St. Joe’s or Crouse,” he adds.
They also didn’t qualify as a rural hospital, so they couldn’t secure any of the special money allocated for rural hospitals. In addition, neither hospital qualified as a special needs hospital, meaning they had a very high percentage of Medicaid patients.
“They didn’t meet one of these three criteria and, hence, got a lot less money,” said Schumer.
The lawmaker told reporters he worked with the Trump Administration to improve the formula and is “pushing very, very hard” to have the formula changed.
The CARES Act earmarked $175 billion for hospitals, nursing homes, and health-care facilities. So, the federal government has distributed $100 billion of that funding, leaving $75 billion.
“Each tranche is allocated with a different formula, so we’ve got to get one of those new tranches to pay particular attention to hospitals that obeyed all the rules but weren’t hot spots, weren’t rural, and weren’t high Medicaid,” said Schumer.
As for Upstate University Hospital, an aide to Schumer noted in response a reporter’s question that the facility will likely receive hot spot funding.