WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), along with U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.), announced that 160 rural health care providers in New Mexico received over $114 million in federal funding to aid in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and account for lost revenue that has stretched the resources of rural health providers in New Mexico and across the country.
The $114,184,099 in funding to rural health care New Mexico providers comes from a health care provider relief fund created under the CARES Act to help hospitals and other providers cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress recently passed an additional interim emergency spending package, in which the New Mexico delegation fought to include an additional $75 billion for this provider relief fund and $25 billion for nationwide testing with $11 billion in dedicated funding to states and Tribes. As part of an agreement that secured this additional funding, the New Mexico delegation helped push for the administration to send $10 billion directly to rural providers.
New Mexico had received $226,368,914 of emergency funding for hospitals and health care providers before receiving the additional $114 million, with 1,793 health care providers having received over $170 million in the first wave of funding after passing the CARES Act and 84 providers receiving over $56 million as part of the second wave of funding.
“Our frontline health care workers in New Mexico continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, which is surging in certain areas of our state,” Udall said. “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, New Mexico’s rural health care providers have been lifelines throughout the state. This continued funding is critical for these brave providers to continue their work and serve New Mexico’s rural and high-risk populations. That’s why I fought to enhance this funding. Congress had to act boldly and quickly to make sure the nation’s health care system has the resources to treat COVID-19 patients and to protect health care providers from this disease. But we must do more. I will continue to push for expeditious and fair implementation of the CARES Act to make sure funding and other relief measures get on the ground and to New Mexico communities, and I will keep working for additional resources so that our health care heroes have the resources they need to do their jobs.”
“Everyone in America—no matter their zip code—should have access to lifesaving health care,” said Heinrich. “Many of the rural health providers that New Mexicans rely on were struggling even before the coronavirus pandemic. During this crisis, most hospitals have ceased performing non-urgent procedures and seeing non-urgent patients, which has significantly reduced revenues and threatened their financial viability. This funding from the CARES Act will help our rural hospitals and clinics secure the supplies and equipment they desperately need during this emergency and stay financially afloat in the short-term. I will keep doing everything in my power to fight for a strong public health response that is based in science and a broad economic recovery that will not leave any of our communities behind.”
“Rural health care providers are especially crucial to providing high-quality care to New Mexicans across the state during this public health crisis. This federal funding will go toward supporting rural health care providers and helping keep their essential services running. I am grateful to all of the health care workers on the frontlines of this pandemic, and I will continue fighting for additional resources for our hospitals, health care workers, and essential personnel,” said Luján.
“Every person in New Mexico deserves access to a health care center to treat their needs, but right now, rural health care professionals and hospitals on the front lines of this COVID-19 pandemic are stretched thin – their shipments aren’t consistent and doctors and nurses are forced to extend the life of personal protective equipment to keep patients safe. I am glad the federal funding we included in the CARES Act is being released to rural health care. I will continue to fight to protect funding for providers across New Mexico that bravely continue to protect our communities during this pandemic,” said Haaland.
“Many of our rural communities still have not reached a peak number of COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, hospitals continue to treat patients with fewer resources and struggle to keep their doors open. I raised the alarm, calling on the Administration to reserve funding for rural hospitals alongside the Delegation, and I am pleased to announce $114 million from the CARES Act is now on its way to rural providers across New Mexico. However, the unprecedented strain on our rural hospitals continues, and I am working to ensure providers have access to additional funding secured through the interim relief package,” said Torres Small.
Not only do health care providers need the resources to treat patients with COVID-19, but many face severely declining revenues because they are unable to schedule and undertake elective procedures and appointments that typically generate the bulk of their revenue. Medical facilities in rural and low-income areas are especially at risk.
The new funding will go to rural acute care general hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), and Community Health Centers (CHCs) located in rural areas. Clinics and Health Centers will receive a minimum grant of $100,000, with additional payment based on operating expenses. Rural acute care general hospitals and CAHs will receive a minimum level of support of no less than $1 million with additional payment based on operating expenses.
These funds are allocated as direct grants; there is no requirement for repayment. Health care entities that receive funding are expected to be asked to commit not to balance bill COVID patients. Balance billing, or surprise billing, occurs when patients are asked to cover the cost difference between what was charged and what their insurer agrees to pay.