US Senate News:
Source: United States Senator for New York Charles E Schumer
Today, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer announced he has secured a first-ever agreement from FEMA that creates a pathway for reimbursement on previously rejected expenses incurred by hospitals in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, costs like transportation, child care, and housing will now be eligible for reimbursement. It is estimated that this flexibility will unlock approximately $250 million for New York’s hospitals, which otherwise would have been shouldered by the hospitals amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I worked hard to secure this agreement with FEMA to provide additional flexibility to hospitals hit hardest during the early days of the pandemic so they are rightfully reimbursed for the massive costs needed to respond to the COVID crisis,” said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer. “This flexibility will unlock hundreds of millions in federal funding for New York hospitals, as well as hospitals across the country, who took the necessary actions to protect heroic doctors, nurses, staff, and their families. With this agreement and increased flexibility, our hospitals will not have to shoulder these expenses alone, enabling them to be better equipped to handle future COVID-19 surges.”
Schumer secured historic funding levels to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through the American Rescue Plan and prior COVID response and relief bills. The pandemic drained resources from New York hospitals, and many exceeded their normal and assisted operating budgets as they undertook emergency protective activities to fight the COVID pandemic. FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program reimburses hospitals and medical facilities for these activities as they work day and night to protect our communities against COVID.
“New York’s hospitals incurred enormous emergency expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic while delivering lifesaving care, including costs for employee transportation, housing, and child care expenses,” said Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth E. Raske. “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has been relentless in his efforts to ensure that FEMA reimburses our hospitals for these emergency expenses. We are deeply grateful to Senator Schumer for his leadership and unwavering support for New York’s hospital community.”
“Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer gets it: Pandemic costs are not going away. New York’s hospitals and health systems continue to expend tremendous resources responding to COVID-19,” said HANYS President Bea Grause, RN, JD. “These new FEMA program flexibilities will go a long way to helping cover hospitals’ COVID-related expenses so they can continue serving their communities. We thank Leader Schumer for his enduring leadership on this issue and his persistent advocacy on behalf of our hospitals and health systems.”
Schumer explained that FEMA will allow the state and impacted hospitals to enter into an agreement, like a Memorandum of Understanding, stating that the actions hospitals took to protect heroic doctors, nurses, support staff, and their families, were in service of the state’s legal responsibility to protect all New Yorkers, making those hospital expenditures eligible for FEMA’s funding. Without this flexibility, hospitals alone would have shouldered the expense of protecting our frontline healthcare workers, all while fighting to stay afloat and continuing the battle against COVID-19.
In the early days of the pandemic, New York accounted for over 20% of the country’s confirmed cases and over 33% of the country’s confirmed deaths. When the pandemic hit, it quickly became clear that emergency child care was needed to meet the needs of healthcare professionals as schools were closed. Child care allowed healthcare professionals to fulfill work responsibilities during the pandemic’s early days. In New York, over 270,000 healthcare professionals needed child care support to continue working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, healthcare professionals needed alternative housing to protect their families from exposure and additional transportation options during the early days of the pandemic.