Senators Shaheen, Collins Lead Colleagues in Urging HHS Secretary to Distribute Remaining COVID-19 Relief for Health Care Providers

August 26, 2021

These funds will help providers weather the financial difficulties created by the pandemic

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) led 41 of their bipartisan colleagues in urging U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to distribute the funds remaining in the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) and other health care relief programs. Over the course of the pandemic, Congress has appropriated $178 billion for the PRF as well as an additional $8.5 billion for rural providers, however, the Government Accountability Office recently reported that 25 percent of the funding remains unspent. Senator Hassan also signed the letter.

“Regrettably, the PRF funding distribution process has been uneven. Shifting guidance, difficulties in reconciling tax information, the absence of a formal appeals process, and other technical problems have plagued the program,” the Senators wrote. “Some providers are still waiting for funding from PRF distributions that were announced last year. Furthermore, plans for additional PRF distributions have been opaque.”

“Financial losses occurring between the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 have not been adequately considered. In addition, some provider types, such as senior care facilities, have been underrepresented in previous rounds of funding,” the Senators continued. “As the health care provider community continues to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic, this funding should be released without any further delay.”

The Senators asked that HHS announce and implement its plans for additional disbursement of PRF. Hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living providers, health clinics, and other health care providers need these funds to help weather the financial difficulties created by the pandemic. In rural areas in particular, the PRF has prevented facilities that struggled before and during the pandemic from falling into bankruptcy or closing entirely.

In addition to Senators Shaheen and Collins, the letter was co-signed by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Jon Tester (D-MT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Tina Smith (D-MN), Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Boozman (R-AR), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Todd Young (R-IN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Hoeven (R-ND), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Angus King (I-ME), John Barrasso (R-WY), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Steve Daines (R-MT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), James Lankford (R-OK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Jeffrey Merkley (D-OR), Robert Casey (D-PA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Bernard Sanders (I-VT).

Click here to read the full letter.

During negotiations with the Senate and White House on the American Rescue Plan, Shaheen helped steer efforts to increase funding for the Provider Relief Fund to ensure hospitals, nursing homes and other health care providers on the frontlines have the support they need to keep their doors open and continue to care for Granite Staters and Americans across the country. Shaheen also defended the Provider Relief Fund from being considered as a pay-for amid negotiations on the historic bipartisan infrastructure legislation that cleared the Senate earlier this month.