News Release: HAP to State, Federal Government: PA Hospitals Need More Support to Combat COVID-19
While Pennsylvania has been preparing for disease outbreaks like the pandemic flu and COVID-19 for years, this unprecedented world health crisis has required Pennsylvania’s hospitals and health care professionals to shoulder this tremendous responsibility. Pennsylvania lawmakers must be prepared to support the health care community to defeat the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and successfully treat and protect patients.
Responding to this call has required each health care facility—including hospitals, health systems, long-term care facilities, nursing facilities and other providers—to work collaboratively to promote public health measures intended to reduce the surge of COVID-19 patients, facilitate testing, effectively manage and share supplies, and ensure that staff and patients remain safe.
“We are in uncharted territory. This is not a drill or your everyday advocacy ask. What the hospital community is asking for is support: support to help our patients and the citizens of Pennsylvania stay healthy, stay safe, and prevent COVID-19 from taking any more lives,” said Andy Carter, HAP President and CEO. “While we are committed to working together, our hospitals are communicating what they need.”
In a letter to Governor Tom Wolf and legislative leaders, HAP outlined several areas that the hospital community and other providers will need support for short- and long-term response efforts:
- Resources for additional staff and supplies to help hospitals bolster existing facilities and expand to temporary options to treat patients
- Emergency response funding to support the front-line health care providers who are preparing for and responding to a potential surge of patients
- Coordination of public health entitles (state, county, and city) to ensure that all organizations are speaking with the same, unified voice. This will minimize unnecessary administrative burden on hospital staff and provide a consistent public message
- Expanded access to testing and treatment for COVID-19
- Insurance coverage and payment for telemedicine as a way to help patients get screening and care for non-emergency health needs
- Waivers to provide flexibility for staffing and maximizing efficient health care delivery (known as 1135 waivers)
- Support for health care workers who need child care
- Access to places for COVID-19 patients to go after they no longer need hospital care, but still need to complete their 14-day quarantine
- Temporary suspension of surveying health care facilities during the COVID-19 crisis, to allow hospitals to solely focus on patient care
- Temporary suspension of burdensome requirements by insurers to approve procedures
- Expedited licensure for nurses and other health care providers who care for COVID-19 patients
- Support for federal funding from the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act and future federal funding mechanisms
Similarly, these points were underscored in communication to Pennsylvania’s Congressional Delegation. These recommendations reflect the needs we have heard raised in our active coordination across the entire care delivery system, not only to support hospitals, but to support the entire health care field in confronting this unprecedented challenge.
“I want to thank each and every person who is helping Pennsylvania provide exceptional care to patients who need hospital care during the COVID-19 outbreak. Our hospitals are being asked to undertake a herculean effort to respond to this crisis,” Carter continued.. “While we are prepared to work collaboratively to treat our patients, we recognize the challenges that we face are significant. We call on our legislative leaders at all levels to speak with one voice and support health care’s response to this crisis and support the hospital community.”
Additionally, HAP asks that all levels of Pennsylvania’s government are unified in responding to this public health crisis. Consistent and accurate communication plays a critical role in addressing and mitigating the impact of COVID-19. HAP strongly encourages all counties and municipalities to follow the recommendations outlined by state officials and employ protocols consistent with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prior to issuing statements on COVID-19 to the general public, please ensure all communications are consistent with those of the Commonwealth.