WASHINGTON — Today, Congressman James Comer (R-Ky.) launched an investigation following reports indicating the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) misallocated COVID-19 relief funds intended to help low-income hospitals. In a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, the Republican lawmakers emphasized that HHS funneled billions of taxpayer dollars to highly profitable hospitals in wealthy areas while rural hospitals battled bankruptcy as they strived to provide high-quality care. The Committee requested all documents and communications related to HHS’s decision-making process for which hospitals and providers received taxpayer funds.
“The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is investigating recent reports of misallocated COVID-19 relief funds intended to help low-income hospitals. Instead of helping hospitals most in need, nearly $17 billion of COVID-19 relief funds went to hospitals with reported profits of more than $53 billion, while $35 billion went to hospitals that reported a loss of almost $130 billion,” wrote Congressman Comer. “It is crucial that we understand how the Department of Health and Human Services distributed these funds to hospitals that did not need it while hospitals in need received minimal benefit. We request documents and communications to assist the Committee’s oversight of HHS’s administration of COVID-19 relief funds to low-income hospitals.”
“Congress appropriated $178 billion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Paycheck Protection and Health Care Enhancement Act, and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, to help keep hospitals and other health care providers open,” continued Congressman Comer. “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. 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. We are concerned about HHS’s decisions to provide PRF funds to highly profitable hospitals in wealthy areas while rural hospitals risked going bankrupt as they tried to provide care to Americans in need.”
Read the letter to HHS Secretary Becerra here.