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News | Coronavirus

Healthcare News of Note: Hospitals await disbursement of remaining COVID-19 relief funds

News | Coronavirus

Healthcare News of Note: Hospitals await disbursement of remaining COVID-19 relief funds

  • Hospitals are asking the Biden administration to distribute the remaining $24 billion in relief funds allocated in 2020.
  • HHS is postponing the implementation of a controversial Trump era rule that would have required the department to review thousands of its regulations.
  • Rachel Levine received Senate confirmation for the post of HHS assistant secretary for health, becoming the first openly transgender person to be confirmed by the Senate.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found these industry news stories that should be of interest to healthcare finance professionals.

1. Hospitals await disbursement of remaining COVID-19 relief funds

Per a March 23 Becker’s Hospital CFO Report, “Hospitals are asking the Biden administration to distribute billions of dollars in relief funds allocated to providers last year to cover losses from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Hospitals say it has been more than three months since the government announced it would be distributing the funds,” wrote reporter Alia Paavola. “The last announcement was Dec. 17, when HHS said it would dish out $24.5 billion to 70,000 healthcare providers. Hospital groups say they haven't had any communication about another round of disbursements since. 

“Of the $178 billion initially placed in the fund, $24 billion has yet to be allocated, according to the Journal. Additionally, legislation signed into law this month added $8.5 billion to the fund for rural healthcare providers.”

2. HHS to postpone implementation of SUNSET rule

A March 22 article in Regulatory Focus reported, “The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is postponing the implementation of a controversial Trump era rule that would have required the department to review thousands of its regulations while the rule undergoes judicial review.
 
“The Securing Updated and Necessary Statutory Evaluations Timely (SUNSET) was first proposed in November 2020 and finalized on 19 January 2021, one day before President Joe Biden’s inauguration. At its core, the rule would sunset most HHS regulations after 10 years if they are not assessed and reviewed based on criteria set out in the Regulatory Flexibility Act and requires HHS to review nearly all its regulations within five years.”

The rule also permits the HHS secretary to extend the review deadline “for regulations by up to one year and requires the department to publish monthly lists of the assessments and reviews it has begun for public comment.”

3. New HHS assistant secretary for health is first openly transgender person to be confirmed by the Senate

The Hill was one of many news outlets to cover the March 24 confirmation of Rachel Levine as HHS assistant secretary for health, “making her the first openly transgender official ever approved by the upper chamber.”

“Levine, previously physician general and secretary of health in Pennsylvania, was confirmed 52-48 in a mostly party-line vote, with GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) supporting the nomination,” wrote author Peter Sullivan.

“Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday ahead of the vote, Majority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) praised the confirmation as historic,” the article continued. 

“The arc of history is long but it keeps bending in the direction of justice,” Schumer said, as quoted in the article. “As transgender Americans suffer higher rates of abuse, homelessness and depression than almost every other group, it’s important to have national figures like Dr. Levine who, by virtue of being in the public spotlight, will help break down barriers of ignorance and fear.”

About the Author

Deborah Filipek

is a senior editor with HFMA, Westchester, Ill.

Sign up for a free guest account and get access to five free articles every month.

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