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State Safety Net Hospitals Plead For Bigger Share Of Remaining Coronavirus Relief Funds

Justin Senior, CEO of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, said member hospitals are struggling financially because of the coronavirus.
Justin Senior, CEO of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, said member hospitals are struggling financially because of the coronavirus.

About $50 billion remains from a pot of money the federal CARES ACT allocated to hospitals that serve the nation's poorest people.

The leaders who represent Florida's safety net hospitals - charged with caring for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay - say they need that money if they are to stay afloat. 
Without it, Justin Senior, CEO of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, said these hospitals will struggle.
“If the hospitals do not get the funding that they need, the relief that they need based on all the losses that they've had in the response, there are going to be repercussions down the road that will have public health repercussions and we want to head those off."

Safety net hospitals cared for 40% of Florida's COVID-19 patients, though they account for only about 10% of the state's hospitals.


Senior said the money would be used to bring staff members back from furloughs, reinstate money from pay cuts, and offset the loss of funds from temporarily stopping scheduled and elective procedures to free up capacity for COVID-19 patients.

At one point, Senior said, Memorial Hospital in Hollywood, FL had 633 patients with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19.

But Senior said Florida did not get a fair share of the 1$25 billion dollars already
given to hospitals under the federal CARES Act. They’re making their case for a bigger slice of the $50 billion left.

Senior said the allocation formula was too simple, and while it got money distributed quickly, was not equitable.

"Ultimately, I think that the fairest way to do it would probably be something associated either with beds or with bed days for the patients,” Senior said.

“And that would be roughly 7% - between seven and 8%. And Florida's not there yet. They've received a little bit more than half of that.”

Senior says the formula also doesn't account for the wave of hospitalizations after June 10, and it kept some of the hardest hit hospitals, including Tampa General Hospital, from receiving some money because of a miscalculation of the hospitals’ profit margins.

The safety net group is also making its case for the federal government to concert Medicare advance payments from loans into grants.

Senior said there is no Plan B. The hospitals need help from the state and federal government or some hard decisions will need to be made.
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