Led by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate health committee, and U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA, 6th), Friday the entire Washington state Congressional Delegation sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar requesting swift implementation of the $100 billion in Public Health and Social Services Emergency Funding (PHSSEF), made available for HHS to distribute by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to support hospitals, health systems, and health care providers in Washington state and across the country. Additionally, the Delegation requested that areas hardest hit by the virus, such as Washington state, are prioritized as funding is distributed. Senator Murray and Representative Kilmer were joined by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), as well as U.S. Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA, 9th), Rick Larsen (D-WA, 2nd), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA, 5th), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA, 3rd), Suzan K. DelBene (D-WA, 1st), Denny Heck (D-WA, 10th), Dan Newhouse (R-WA, 4th), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA, 7th), and Kim Schrier, M.D. (D-WA, 8th) in the letter.
“While Washington state providers have been fighting the outbreak for months, recent estimates by the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation suggest that the outbreak will not reach its peak in the state until April 19. Providers in our state need access to funds as soon as possible,” the Delegation wrote. “In order to make the PHSSEF as effective as possible, the Department must target areas most in need, move quickly in disbursing funds, and provide clear, specific guidance to providers on how to apply.”
The Delegation continued: “Providers are on the front lines of the fight to overcome the COVID-19 outbreak, and the PHSSEF enacted by the CARES Act will provide critical support to help those providers treat patients and families. We request that you provide access to those needed funds as quickly and easily as possible and prioritize providers in areas hardest hit by the pandemic.”
The first state to see COVID-19 cases and deaths, Washington state hospitals and providers have been working to slow the spread of the virus and ensure sufficient hospital capacity for patient treatment longer than any other state. Even with proactive steps from the state government to stem the spread of the virus, Washington state health care providers have been under an immense amount of strain as the number of people requiring care increases and revenue streams dwindle. In order to ensure that federal funding from the CARES Act quickly and efficiently assists providers in coping with this crisis, the lawmakers urged HHS to issue clear guidance for providers to apply for funding, distribute funding to providers rapidly, and prioritize funding for providers that are dealing with a high volume of cases and losing revenue.
Read full letter below or HERE.