With Local Hospitals Still Recovering from the Devastating Impacts of COVID-19, Rep. Katko Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Provide Vital Relief

Washington, DC— U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) last week, announced the introduction of the COVID-19 Hospital Forgiveness Act, bipartisan legislation that would provide Central New York hospitals with vital relief as they recover from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rep. Katko introduced this bipartisan measure alongside U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D, OH-9), Bob Gibbs (R, OH-7), and 37 of their colleagues.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Central New York hospitals have incurred significant costs stemming from the suspension of elective procedures and the sharp decline in patient volume. This forced hospitals to furlough staff and postpone much-needed capital projects. In response, Rep. Katko supported passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, bipartisan legislation that expanded the Accelerated and Advance Payment (AAP) Program, a loan program administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Loans from the AAP allow local hospitals and medical facilities to access advanced or accelerated Medicare payments to cover healthcare related expenses and lost revenue attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, as facilities approach loan repayment dates, many are still facing significant financial uncertainty and have only recently resumed normal activities. To provide additional relief the bipartisan legislation Rep. Katko introduced would forgive loans made to hospitals and providers through the AAP.

Rep. John Katko (NY-24)

“During this crisis, many hospitals have faced significant financial challenges that forced them to furlough staff, forgo improvements to facilities, and in severe cases, threatened their ability maintain operations. In response, I supported passage of the CARES Act, bipartisan legislation that provided vital relief to struggling medical facilities in our region,” said Rep. Katko. “Unfortunately, today, many hospitals are still facing significant economic hardships. For this reason, I introduced the COVID-19 Hospital Forgiveness Act. This bipartisan legislation would provide loan forgiveness to hospitals that received payments through CMS’s Accelerated and Advance Payment (AAP) Program to cover healthcare related expenses and lost revenue attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. By providing hospitals with an important lifeline as they recover from this crisis, my bipartisan bill helps hospitals and medical facilities remain operational and ready to serve patients in Central New York.”

“Health systems have been hit incredibly hard during this pandemic and continue to weather significant financial pressures brought about by increased costs and decreased services, particularly in areas such as Upstate New York where thankfully virus volume was low, though hospitals remained empty,” said Leslie P. Luke, President and CEO, St. Joseph’s Health. “The loan forgiveness of Medicare Advanced payments made to hospitals during the height of the crisis would support us significantly in protecting services in our community. We thank Congressman Katko for continuing to advocate for hospitals and stepping up and out front to be a cosponsor of this impactful bill.”

“Auburn Community Hospital continues to recover slowly from the COVID-19 crisis. Inpatient admissions, elective surgeries and emergency room visits are improving albeit slowly,” said Matt Chadderdon, Vice President Marketing & Government Relations for Auburn Community Hospital. “Representative Katko has been very helpful in making sure small community hospitals like Auburn Community Hospital received our fair share of federal funding to help us through this pandemic.  The Loan Forgiveness for Accelerated and Advance Medicare Programs Act sponsored by Rep. Katko would be a tremendous help to our hospital. At this point, we are very concerned about how we will pay the advanced Medicare dollars back given the struggles mentioned above.”

In Congress, Rep. Katko has continuously fought to secure relief for Central New York hospitals and medical facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, he supported passage of the CARES Act,  legislation that delivered millions in direct aid to Central New York hospitals. More recently, Reps. Katko and Brindisi, led a bipartisan effort urging Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to allocate a higher proportion of funds from the Provider Relief Fund to local hospitals.