May 15, 2020
Secretary Azar Statement on National Hospital Week
May 10 through 16, 2020, marks National Hospital Week. HHS Secretary Alex Azar issued the following statement recognizing the contributions of hospitals and their frontline workers:
“America’s hospitals, from major urban research centers to rural institutions, have answered their country’s call throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone who staffs America’s hospitals—from doctors and nurses to everyone who keeps these institutions clean and supplied—has worked tirelessly and heroically to keep America’s hospitals running and patients cared for. America’s hospitals and their workers have been stressed, but through dedication and creativity, they have not been overwhelmed.
“The Trump Administration has shipped tons of personal protective equipment to hospitals, secured more than $175 billion in aid for healthcare providers, and created huge opportunities for hospitals to creatively surge capacity and keep patients safe. This week, President Trump announced a plan to modernize the Strategic National Stockpile to provide a much more effective resource for protecting healthcare providers during future pandemics. Through the most trying time our healthcare system has ever faced, we will continue helping America’s hospitals meet this emergency and get Americans the care they need.”
Selected Major Actions to Support America’s Hospitals
- HHS has been rapidly allocating $175 billion in emergency relief funds secured by President Trump to healthcare providers across America, with $12 billion going to hospitals in areas hardest hit by COVID-19 and $10 billion to rural hospitals and other rural providers.
- As of May 10, FEMA, HHS, and the private sector have collectively coordinated the delivery of or are currently shipping, including to hospitals, 90.4 million N95 respirators, 126.6 million surgical masks, 9.1 million face shields, 21.2 million surgical gowns, 993.4 million gloves, and 10,693 ventilators.
- HHS has finalized contracts to produce or acquire more than 187,000 ventilators by the end of the year.
- On April 22, HRSA awarded nearly $165 million to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in rural communities to support 1,779 small rural hospitals and provide additional funding to 14 HRSA-funded Telehealth Resource Centers.
- On March 28, CMS announced the expansion of its accelerated and advance payment program for health care providers and suppliers, to ensure they have the resources needed to combat the virus, providing more than $100 billion in advance payments as of April 30.
- CDC has created and regularly updated guidance for hospitals on patient clinical care, infection prevention and control, and worker safety.
- On March 24, ASPR provided $100 million to aid U.S. healthcare systems in preparing quickly for a surge in COVID-19 patients.
- On March 30, April 9, April 13, and April 30, CMS issued multiple waivers and suspended multiple rules to give facilities the ability to address staffing needs and enable clinicians to practice to the full extent of their licenses and scope of practice without unnecessary supervision costs, as well as provide services like meals, laundry, and child care that otherwise would not be permitted under federal regulations.
- On March 17, CMS expanded Medicare coverage for telehealth visits and the HHS Office of Civil Rights announced they will waive potential HIPAA penalties for good faith use of telehealth during the emergency using common apps like FaceTime or Skype, and the HHS Office of Inspector General provided flexibility for healthcare providers to reduce or waive beneficiary cost-sharing for telehealth visits paid by federal healthcare programs.