FEMA Agrees to Cover COVID-19 Expenses for New York Public Hospitals

New York City’s public hospital system will receive additional support from the government for spending it racked up in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following pressure from New York lawmakers and health system officials, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to cover nearly all of the excess costs of hospitals in this period of the pandemic, Majority Leader in the Senate Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) and Representative Ritchie Torres (DN.Y.) said at a press conference Wednesday.

In October 2020, NYC Health + Hospitals submitted a claim to FEMA, asking for approximately $ 900 million to offset expenses related to hiring additional staff and increasing bed capacity to treat patients. hospitalized COVID-19.

FEMA initially offered to provide $ 260 million, saying NYC Health + Hospitals confused regular spending with emergency spending. The public health system has argued that it was virtually impossible to differentiate the two amid the chaos of the first months of the pandemic, which devastated New York hospitals.

The agency reversed course on Wednesday and agreed to send New York an additional $ 620 million, for a total of $ 880 million in COVID-19 relief funds.

“FEMA continues to work with our partners in New York to ensure applicants receive reimbursement for all eligible COVID-19 expenses,” a FEMA spokesperson said in a statement.

NYC Health + Hospitals did not respond to requests for comment by post.

This summer, the 11-hospital system was in dire economic straits that put operations at risk, according to a letter NYC Health + Hospitals CEO Dr Mitchell Katz sent to FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell , June 11. The health care system assumed the federal government would cover any emergency expenses, Katz wrote.

Nationally, hospital revenues and operating margins remain low due to costs related to COVID-19 and the postponement of other types of care by patients due to the pandemic.

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