FEMA agrees to cover nearly $900M in COVID-19 expenses for NYC public hospitals

New York City’s public hospital system will receive additional government support for the expenses it accrued during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following pressure from New York lawmakers and health system officials, the Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to cover almost all of the hospitals’ excess costs from that period of the pandemic, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) said during a news conference Wednesday.

In October 2020, NYC Health + Hospitals submitted a reimbursement request to FEMA, asking for about $900 million to offset expenses related to hiring extra staff and expanding bed capacity to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

FEMA initially offered to deliver $260 million, saying that NYC Health + Hospitals conflated ordinary expenses with emergency spending. The public health system argued that differentiating between the two was virtually impossible amid the chaos of the pandemic’s early months, which staggered New York hospitals.

The agency reversed course Wednesday and agreed to send New York City another $620 million, for a total of $880 million in COVID-19 relief funds.

“FEMA continues to work with our partners in New York City to ensure applicants receive reimbursement for all eligible COVID-19 expenses,” a FEMA spokesperson said in a statement.

NYC Health + Hospitals did not respond to requests for comment by publication.

This summer, the 11-hospital system was in a hazardous economic situation that jeopardized operations, according to a letter NYC Health + Hospitals CEO Dr. Mitchell Katz sent to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell June 11. The health system assumed the federal government would cover all emergency expenses, Katz wrote.

Nationwide, hospital revenues and operating margins remain low as a result of COVID-19 costs and patients deferring other types of care because of the pandemic.

Source: modernhealthcare.com

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