Arkansas delegation urges hospital funding expansion

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FILE – In this July 6, 2020, file photo, Mississippi legislators, staff and Capitol employees take advantage of a drive-thru COVID-19 testing center on the Capitol grounds in Jackson, Miss. Mississippi is seeing the largest outbreak of COVID-19 among legislators in any state. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KNWA/KFTA) – Arkansas delegation is urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to amend eligibility thresholds when determining the high-impact payments through the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund.

Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3) led a letter alongside U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton and Congressmen Rick Crawford, French Hill, and Bruce Westerman to HHS hoping to ensure hospitals who saw late surges in hospitalizations can qualify to receive assistance.

“We strongly urge you to take into account states that saw surges in patients in late June and July when determining distribution of payments for high-impact areas,” the members wrote. “Congress and the Administration acted swiftly to allocate resources as quickly as possible, and as this pandemic continues to change and impact different parts of this country, it is imperative that our policies remain flexible and the vast resources provided continue to make the most impact.”

The admissions eligibility date for the most recent round of payments from the Provider Relief Fund were through June 10. Due to Arkansas’s surge falling outside this date, hospitals around Arkansas are currently unable to receive this specific assistance. With CARES Act funding still available, Arkansas delegators are requesting changes to support local hospitals and quickly allocate unutilized funds.

In addition to contacting HHS Secretary Alex Azar, the delegation also voiced their concerns to Vice President Mike Pence, chairman of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. They expressed the need to further strengthen resource distribution efforts and expressed that they would like to work together to ensure programs are administered in a way that best serves the public. 

In the press release, Arkansas delegation says they are committed to mobilizing and allocating resources to support Arkansas’s pandemic response and recovery efforts.

“Through legislative action and advocacy, they have secured billions of dollars to assist local hospitals, healthcare providers, testing capacity, and more,” the press release says. “This letter is another step in their oversight efforts to ensure that policies are the most effective and reflect evolving circumstances.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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