Durbin, Duckworth, Kelly, Foster Discuss COVID-19 Response With Illinois Hospitals

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and U.S. Representatives Robin Kelly (R-IL-02) and Bill Foster (D-IL-11) today, on a call with more than 20 CEOs of Illinois hospitals and leaders of the Illinois Health & Hospital Association, discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Illinois and how hospitals are fighting the pandemic on the ground.  The group discussed how to increase federal support to hospitals through CARES Act funding formulas and programs. Many of these hospitals are treating a disproportionate share of COVID-19 cases and are impacted by drastic racial health disparities in the communities they serve.

The members of Congress also thanked the hospital representatives for everything their health workers have done so far to help Illinois patients.  The Senators and Representatives pledged to continue to push for a direct and immediate infusion of funds for our hospitals, as well as policies to maintain telehealth services, support the health care workforce, and increase the personal protective equipment, testing kit supplies, ventilators, and other medical resources health workers need.

“I want to thank all of the hospital leaders and their staff for the heroic work they are doing on the front lines combatting this pandemic.  I will continue to work on a bipartisan basis to bolster the health care workforce, expand our testing capacity, and provide direct assistance to hospitals throughout Illinois so they can stay on sound financial ground and continue serving their patients as we get through this national public health crisis,” Durbin said.

“First and foremost, I want to say how unbelievably grateful I am for all of the doctors, nurses, janitors, administrators and all hospital workers across Illinois,” Duckworth said. “Working in medicine has always been selfless, but right now, it’s courageous, too. I’ll keep working with Senator Durbin to make sure our front line health workers have the support and resources they deserve.”

“I appreciate my colleagues and local healthcare leaders making time to speak with us today. As we continue to respond to and recover from COVID-19, these conversations are critical to crafting the best possible policies,” said Kelly.

“It was great to join Senator Durbin, Senator Duckworth, and Congresswoman Kelly today for a discussion with Illinois hospital leaders, including several from the 11th District. As a member of the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, I’m focused on making sure that the funding Congress approves for hospitals and health care workers is being spent as intended. If we are going to navigate this pandemic, it will be because we make sure our health care infrastructure has robust resources to deliver life-saving care to our communities,” said Foster.

Durbin and Duckworth have urged the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to alter the methodology for the CARES Act’s funding to better reflect the unique contributions of children’s hospitals, hospitals that serve a disproportionate share of Medicaid and uninsured patients, and rural hospitals, as well as hospitals that serve communities with higher volumes of COVID-19 cases.  To date, Illinois hospitals and health providers have received approximately $4 billion in funds from the HHS Provider Relief Fund, with additional allocations expected in the coming weeks.  

Durbin is a cosponsor of a bill that would reduce interest rates and modify repayment obligations for health care providers who’ve sought financial assistance amid the coronavirus pandemic through Medicare’s Accelerated and Advance Payments Program. This program was expanded under the CARES Act to allow for hospitals, physicians and other Medicare-participating providers to apply for upfront payments from Medicare to help cover revenue shortfalls as a result of COVID-19.  To date, Illinois providers have received $4 billion in upfront payments through this program to mitigate the economic shortfall caused by the pandemic.