On Tuesday, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley joined a group of lawmakers in calling on Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to provide immediate support to rural hospitals and healthcare providers as they take on the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. The letter, signed by 41 senators and 81 representatives, warned that responding to the pandemic could force rural hospitals to close and requested that Secretary Azar provide members of Congress with a teleconference briefing on his efforts by April 3, 2020.
“Small and rural hospitals across the nation are facing an acute financial crisis. Even before this crisis, nearly one-half of rural hospitals were operating at a financial loss, and hundreds were on the brink of closure. Now, they are confronting impossible choices during this public health emergency,” the lawmakers wrote. “The administration must focus on ensuring financial viability of these providers. Failure to take fast and aggressive action will put the health of our communities at further risk.”
Senator Hawley recently warned Secretary Azar and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor of potential staffing shortages and other increased stresses on Missouri’s healthcare and hospital systems as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.