The Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) sent a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate endorsing the Provider Relief Fund Improvement Act (H.R. 5963/S. 3611). The bipartisan bill aims to ensure that our nation’s health care providers have access to and can use funding allocated through the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) as the health care delivery system continues to recover from the setbacks and financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, the Provider Relief Fund Improvement Act would help health care providers by:
- Extending current reporting and use-of-funds deadlines through the end of the public health emergency
- Ensuring workplace safety improvements, such as security personnel, risk assessments, panic buttons, and security cameras, are an allowable use of PRF dollars
- Directing the Health Resources & Services Administration to distribute any remaining PRF funds by either the end public health emergency or March 31, 2022
- Creating a process for certain providers to reapply for funding that had to be returned early in the pandemic
Congress created the PRF as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act towards the beginning of the pandemic to reimburse healthcare providers for expenses or lost revenues due to COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, Congress has appropriated $178 billion for the PRF.
Cancer clinicians implemented pandemic-related changes (e.g., social distancing, extended office hours, pre-visit screening, and new practice configurations), which have put an added financial strain on practices. The American Society of Clinical Oncology’s , “Road to Recovery Report: Learning From the COVID-19 Experience to Improve Clinical Research and Cancer Care,” recommends that “pandemic-related financial relief and policies need to be extended or made permanent in order to support a sustained recovery period for cancer care providers.”
ASCO is grateful for Congress’ efforts to mitigate the financial stress that healthcare institutions and providers have incurred due to the pandemic through the Provider Relief Fund. However, delays in distribution have made it difficult for health care providers to fully benefit from this relief funding. Congress must pass the Provider Relief Fund Improvement Act to increase flexibility for providers to access and use this funding to ensure it provides the intended relief to our healthcare system. ASCO will continue to work with Congress as it advances this legislation.
Read the full letter to members of the House.
Read the full letter to members of the Senate.
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