The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability is investigating the Department of Health and Human Services’ distribution of pandemic relief funds intended to help low-income hospitals. In 2021, $178 billion was approved to assist low-income hospitals struggling through the pandemic.
In a letter sent to Secretary Xavier Becerra, members said that they were concerned about the department’s decisions to provide Provider Relief Funds (PRF) to highly profitable hospitals in wealthy areas while rural hospitals risked bankruptcy in order to provide care to Americans.
“Of the $178 billion in this Provider Relief Fund (PRF), 1,257 money-making hospitals received $16.7 billion, while collectively reporting $53.6 billion in profits,” the letter states. “Conversely, 1,644 unprofitable hospitals received only $35 billion from the PRF despite reporting a loss of $129.1 billion during the period. Inova Health Systems in Northern Virginia, which received $186.1 million, eliminated more than 400 jobs while reporting a profit of $255.5 million in 2020 and 2021. Meanwhile, in Elmira, NY, the Arnot Ogden Medical Center received just $18.5 million despite losing money in 2020 and 2021 due to lost revenue caused by the pandemic response.”
The letter requested that HHS provide the following documents by April 25:
“1. All documents and communications related to the decision-making process for which hospitals, providers, or other entities received funds from the PRF;
2. All documents and communications between the White House and HHS related to the PRF from January 20, 2021, to the present;
3. All documents and communications related to hospitals, providers or other entities which received PRF funds and laid off staff during the pandemic;
4. All documents and communications related to hospitals, providers or other entities which received PRF funds and how many claims related to medical debt they made against patients;
5. A list of all hospitals, providers, or other entities that received PRF funds and how much they received; and
6. All documents and communications related to the recoupment of PRF funds from hospitals, providers, or other entities which were not qualified for those funds.”