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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Rural Hospitals Get $8.5B In Senate Relief Bill

Rural hospitals are slated to get $8.5 billion in bailout funding in the Senate version of Democrats' Covid stimulus package.

The legislation specifies that the new funding, which is separate from a provider relief fund Congress established almost a year ago, is designated to help rural providers cover expenses and losses related to the pandemic. Rural hospitals have faced a wave of closures over the last decade and have been especially vulnerable to financial problems throughout this health crisis.

The provision will be a disappointment for powerhouse hospital lobbying groups who urged lawmakers to add $35 billion in bailout funds, with a dedicated portion for rural providers. But Democratic leaders have appeared reluctant to add to the existing $175 billion provider relief fund, which helps facilities shoulder the costs of Covid-related treatment and equipment and offset lost revenue from canceled elective procedures. President Joe Biden and House Democrats both left out provider bailout money in their rescue plans.

There's about $24 billion remaining in the provider relief fund, according to the federal health agency overseeing it. However, not all the money that's been spent has been publicly accounted for, leading to some confusion.
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