Reps. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) sent a May 11 letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, asking for more time and flexibility for providers to use Provider Relief Fund distributions.
The letter was signed by 77 other House members. It urges Secretary Becerra to distribute the remaining resources in the Provider Relief Fund immediately, and also requests an extension of the deadline to use the funds from June 30, 2021 to June 30, 2022.
Congress provided $178 billion in legislation passed throughout the pandemic in direct payments to providers through the Provider Relief Fund, as well as an additional $8.5 billion for rural hospitals in the American Rescue Plan (P.L. 117-2) [refer to Washington Highlights, March 12]. Though the resources from the fund must be utilized by June 30, 2021, a portion of the funds allocated by Congress have not yet been distributed.
“It is critical that every dollar of assistance to our health care providers can go as far as possible to keep people safe and healthy, particularly as we see SARS-CoV-2 variants like B.1.1.7 – which is more transmissible and potentially more deadly – account for an increasing share of new coronavirus cases. Providers are still delivering complex care for patients with COVID-19 and coping with higher procurement costs for personal protective equipment (PPE),” the letter stated.