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Collins, Shaheen push for relief fund distribution

Money remains in Provider Relief Fund and other programs

From Sen. Collins

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Su­san Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) recently led 41 of their bipartisan colleagues in urging U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Secretary Xavi­er Becerra to distribute the funds remaining for healthcare providers.

Funding is still available in the Provid­er Relief Fund (PRF) and other health care relief pro­grams.

Over the course of the pandemic, Congress has appropriated $178 bil­lion for the PRF as well as an additional $8.5 billion for rural providers. The Government Accountabili­ty Office recently reported that about 25 percent of the funding remains unspent.

“Regrettably, the PRF funding distribution process has been uneven. Shifting guidance, difficul­ties in reconciling tax in­formation, the absence of a formal appeals process, and other technical prob­lems have plagued the pro­gram,” the Senators wrote. “Some providers are still waiting for funding from PRF distributions that were announced last year. Furthermore, plans for ad­ditional PRF distributions have been opaque.”

“Financial losses oc­curring between the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 have not been ad­equately considered. In addition, some provider types, such as senior care facilities, have been un­derrepresented in previous rounds of funding,” the Senators continued. “As the health care provider community continues to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic, this funding should be re­leased without any further delay.”

The Senators asked that HHS announce and implement its plans for additional disbursement of PRF. Hospitals, nurs­ing homes, assisted living providers, health clinics, and other health care pro­viders need these funds to help weather the finan­cial difficulties created by the pandemic. In rural ar­eas in particular, the PRF has prevented facilities that struggled before and during the pandemic from falling into bankruptcy or closing entirely.

Senator Collins has long been a champion of improving access to health care, particularly in ru­ral and underserved areas amid this public health cri­sis. In February, Senators Collins and Manchin au­thored an amendment to replenish the Provider Re­lief Fund by $35 billion to help hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, assisted living providers and others with the increased costs and lost revenue brought on by the pandemic.

In addition to Sena­tors Collins and Shaheen, the letter to Secretary Becerra was co-signed by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Lisa Murkows­ki (R-AK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Jon Tester (D-MT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Tina Smith (D-MN), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Mag­gie Hassan (D-NH), John Boozman (R-AR), Ra­phael Warnock (D-GA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Debbie Staben­ow (D-MI), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Todd Young (R-IN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Hoeven (R-ND), Ben­jamin Cardin (D-MD), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Angus King (I-ME), John Barrasso (R-WY), Rich­ard Durbin (D-IL), Steve Daines (R-MT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), James Lankford (R-OK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Jeffrey Merkley (D-OR), Robert Casey (D-PA), Alex Padil­la (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Bernard Sand­ers (I-VT).

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