Durbin Meets With Hospital Leaders In Decatur To Discuss COVID-19 Response

DECATUR – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today visited Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) St. Mary’s Hospital to discuss the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on health care and the economy across central and southern Illinois and priorities for relief legislation.  Durbin and hospital leaders discussed the need for a direct and immediate infusion of funds for our hospitals, as well as policies to stabilize funding for rural hospitals, support the health care workforce, and increase the personal protective equipment (PPE), testing kit supplies, and other medical resources health workers need. 

“I want to thank St. Mary’s Hospital leaders and 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 public health crisis,” Durbin said.

It's been more than 50 days since the House passed the HEROES Act, which includes another $100 billion for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provider relief fund, full federal subsidization for COBRA coverage, flexibility on the Medicare Accelerated Payments to address cash flow challenges for health providers, a 14 percent federal Medicaid match rate increase, $75 billion for testing and contact tracing, utilization of the Defense Production Act to procure PPE, and premium pay for front-line health workers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to bring the legislation to the Senate floor for a debate and vote.  To date, Illinois hospitals and health providers have received approximately $4 billion in CARES Act grants from HHS, as well as $4 billion in advanced payments from Medicare to mitigate the economic shortfall from increased expenditures and lost revenues from outpatient procedures due to the pandemic. 

Durbin has introduced the Rural Hospital Closure Relief Act with Senator James Lankford (R-OK) to update Medicare’s “Critical Access Hospital” designation to provide greater financial stability for vulnerable rural hospitals so they can continue to serve their communities with quality, affordable health care services.

Durbin is also advancing his Strengthening America’s Health Care Readiness Act, which he introduced last month with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), which would provide a historic investment in scholarship and loan repayment funding through the National Health Service and Nurse Corps programs to bolster our nation’s health emergency surge capacity and restore the pipeline of health professionals to address workforce shortages, particularly in rural communities.