It didn't seem possible, but Republicans and Democrats have finally found a coronavirus-related campaign they can both support. A group of 91 congressmen - 46 Republicans and 45 Democrats - sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan ahead of Fourth of July weekend, urging the officials to ensure that children's hospitals are well-funded during the coronavirus pandemic. Like so many other medical facilities, children's hospitals have been largely forced to cease elective surgeries.
So, while the members of Congress are grateful to the administration for its work distributing funds from the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program, they are urging the HHS to now focus its efforts on children. In their letter, they request an additional allocation for children's hospitals out of the remaining provider relief funds already appropriated by Congress.
While we are thankful for your efforts, we remain concerned by the level of funding received by children’s hospitals. To date, the Department has targeted allocations for unique and vulnerable groups, such as rural and high impact providers. Children’s hospitals, however, have no received assistance comparable to other categories of health care providers.
Under state and federal guidance, children’s hospitals have played an integral role in fighting COVID-19 by providing testing services, cacelling non-essential services, transforming facilities to care for children and adult COVID patients, and absorbing growing costs for personal protective equipment and other critical supplies. As a result, America’s children’s hospitals have experienced declines in revenue upwards of 40% and approximately $2 billion per month in losses.
Therefore, we respectfully request an additional allocation for children’s hospitals out of the remaining provider relief funds already appropriated by Congress. The children’s hospitals in our communities are the pediactric health care safety net, delivering lifesaving care, conducting groundbreaking research, and partnering in the fight against COVID. Providing them with an additional allocation from the PHSSEF will ensure the continued safety of our children, families, and communities.
You can read the entire letter, and the dozens of signatures, here.
The campaign to fund children's hospitals has bipartisan Senate support, too, led by Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
"Many children's hospitals have had to resort to furloughs and lay-offs at a time when they are also preparing for possible increases in COVID-19 patients or more complex cases as a result of deferred care," the senators write. "Unlike adults, deferred care in children is not 'elective.' Deferred care for a child can include orthopedic surgery to straighten a spine or a major cardiac procedure."
The letter's co-signers include Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), David Purdue (R-Ga.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Hawaii), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).