Congress also beefed up oversight and restrictions on the $100 billion pot. Applicants will have to justify their funding requests, which will be audited by the health department’s independent watchdog. The providers will also have to report to the federal government “as needed” to show they’re using the funds as intended. Providers will also be barred from double-dipping into the fund for any expenses that will be repaid elsewhere.
The American Hospital Association, along with the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association, had asked for $100 billion late last week, while for-profit hospitals pushed for more than double the amount.
Provider lobbyists in the past several days moved the needle considerably on funding talks, after Senate Republicans’ initial plan released late last week left out direct funding. Instead, the GOP lawmakers had called for suspending the 2 percent Medicare rate cut from the ongoing sequester while boosting Medicare payments related to Covid-19 treatment by 15 percent. They later proposed $75 billion in grants and other direct funding in an amended package over the weekend, before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday countered with her own stimulus package that boosted the number to $100 billion.
Senate Democrats led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who has close ties to his state’s hospitals, had sought even more — closer to the $225 billion pushed by the for-profit hospital lobby Federation of American Hospitals. Schumer claimed Wednesday’s compromise boosted hospital funding by $55 billion over the Senate GOP’s earlier proposal.
The bill also provides $1 billion to the Indian Health Service, which has had early struggles responding to the outbreak.