BUFFALO, N.Y. — Millions of dollars appear to be safeguarded for area hospitals as they continue to assess whether a federal mandate tied to reporting on COVID-19 relief funds means they’ll have to give money back.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in mid-September issued guidance that changed the reporting requirements on funding through the CARES Act through the Provider Relief Fund. The goal was to help struggling hospitals get through 2020, but the result was that some ended up more profitable than in 2019. HHS said it would be inequitable to allow that while so many other providers continue to struggle to remain viable.
A policy update issued Oct. 22 by HHS said it would allow providers to use the federal dollars without limitation. Hospitals had argued the changes didn’t take into account lost revenue and other unexpected expenses. Peter Cutler, vice president of communications and external affairs at Erie County Medical Center Corp., which received $29 million, called the changes "misguided."