PHILADELPHIA — A bipartisan group of members of Congress from southeastern Pennsylvania is pressing for hospitals with the greatest short-term need – including Philadelphia hospitals – to get federal funding priority during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Congressmen Brendan F. Boyle (D-2nd Dist.) and Dwight Evans (D-3rd Dist.), joined by Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D- 4th Dist.) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R -1st Dist.), have sent a request to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma. Evans and Boyle serve on the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees much of the U.S. health-care system.

“We respectfully request that the method through which these funds are distributed prioritize hospitals with the greatest immediate need, including those operating in underserved communities,” the lawmakers said in the letter. 

“The critical role that (safety-net hospitals) play in caring for the underserved means that the already high rates of uncompensated care will continue to rise as this crisis continues, weakening their financial stability, and thus the stability of their communities as a whole. This is particularly true for the city of Philadelphia, which White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx stated earlier this week may become a virus hotspot, and where approximately 1 in 5 adults is enrolled in Medicaid.”

“When Congress allocated this funding, it was supposed to go to the facilities that need it most,” Boyle said. “While I am glad HHS is getting direct relief to hospitals quickly, they have ignored much of the statute’s language and have excluded some of our most vulnerable hospitals. Philadelphia is a budding hotspot in this pandemic, yet this initial outlay fails to address our influx of patients and the financial hardship our facilities have taken on. The changes we outline are a step in the right direction. HHS must abide by Congress’ intent.”

“Common sense and the intent of Congress say priority for this funding should go to hospitals with the most immediate need, and the White House has been saying Philadelphia may become a coronavirus hot spot,” Evans said. “We want to make sure Philadelphia hospitals get the help they need to keep serving our communities at this critical time.”

“Our hospitals are facing unique and challenging realities as we manage the COVID-19 outbreak – and the allocation of funds is vital to ensuring that no one is left behind during this pandemic,” Dean said. “We must be certain that allocated hospital funds from the CARES Act reach hospitals serving Medicaid and Medicare Advantage patients and all of those in need, and I thank Reps. Evans and Boyle for their leadership on this issue.”

“Hospitals across our country have been working nonstop to help mitigate COVID-19,” Fitzpatrick said. “The CARES Act provides critical funding for hospitals, and we need to give priority to those who have been hit the hardest by this virus. It is crucial that we help those who need it the most.”