Carper, Coons: Children's hospitals, health providers need urgent help

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, both D-Delaware, told Senate leaders on May 26 that hospitals serving children cannot continue to sustain the expected $10 billion in losses in the next several months and they pressed Senate leaders to include relief specifically for children’s hospitals and pediatric health care providers in the next COVID-19 relief package.

Starting in January, children’s hospitals sustained deep revenue losses when they paused non-urgent and elective surgeries to help free up capacity for COVID-19 cases. At the same time, their costs for additional personal protective equipment, testing and other supplies rose sharply. Parents and patients were forced to wait months for the specialized diagnostic or therapeutic treatments they could only receive at children’s hospitals.

“We continue to learn more about the effect of COVID-19 on children, and are deeply troubled by reports of a new inflammatory disease in children that may be linked to the coronavirus outbreak,” wrote the senators. “As this outbreak continues, we are worried about the pandemic’s negative impact on the national network of pediatric health care providers, our best experts in caring for our country’s young people. Children’s hospitals treat chronically and acutely ill infants and children; provide care to children with disabilities and complex medical conditions; and also serve as hubs for specialized pediatric training and research discovery. Our nation’s children’s hospitals impact the health and wellbeing of every child in the U.S. and serve as the safety-net provider for millions of children.”

The senators, in their letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, pointed out that most of “the federal funding dedicated by Congress to provide relief for health care providers thus far has been directed through Medicare, which is not a significant program for children’s hospitals and pediatric health care providers. The first allocation of funding for hospitals from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services used Medicare revenues as the measure for assistance — virtually disqualifying children’s hospitals from receiving any aid, since the vast majority of children’s hospitals are not-for-profit, community-benefit organizations — and Medicaid, not Medicare, is the payer for more than 50% of all patient volumes. While HHS released additional funding that is not tied to Medicare, this only covered a small portion of the losses of children’s hospitals. As the safety net for children, especially those with complex medical conditions like cerebral palsy or leukemia, Congress must step up to provide dedicated funding to our children’s hospitals to address their unique situation during this time.”

The full text of the letter is available at bly/3it.dhn5ZH.