Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Sunday urged the federal govenment to expedite COVID relief payments to Northwell Health and other private hospital systems on Long Island that have been hit hard by the sharp surge in omicron cases.
Northwell has received about $1.365 billion through the Provider Relief Fund, part of his Marshall Plan for Hospitals, but it has taken up to two years for the system to receive some of that money. He said he’d like to see Northwell and other systems receive that funding in weeks or a few months.
"COVID is a bodily disease, but it also bleeds our hospitals of money," Schumer (D-New York) said Sunday during a news conference in Manhattan with New York Mayor Eric Adams and U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-the Bronx).
Northwell representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Schumer announced last week that FEMA has agreed to deliver $1 billion to New York City public hospitals that have been hard hit by the omicron surge, but on Sunday, he said that money will not cover increasing costs linked to rise in cases caused by the omicron variant.
"The money on the way doesn’t include the costs of the recent omicron surge that’s hitting all of our great city hospitals with costs that are climbing as we speak, potentially into the hundreds-of-millions," Schumer said. "I’m here today to make sure that our friends at FEMA stand at the ready to expedite New York City’s next emergency payment ASAP, without delay, because we’ll need it."
New York City Health + Hospitals submitted a reimbursement request with FEMA in October 2020 for about $900 million in expenses related to hiring extra staff and expanding capacity to treat COVID patients. Schumer said FEMA said it would only cover less than a third of that request, saying that the other expenses were ineligible because the hospital system submitted regular expenses along with emergency operations sparked by the pandemic.
New York City public hospitals, with the funds announced last week, will have received $1.19 billion during the pandemic, Schumer said.
"In the case of FEMA, they were being bureaucratic, but they did the right thing by New York and fixed it, and the message today is simple: we need to keep it this way for the omicron costs, which, like I said, are climbing as we speak," Schumer said.
Schumer said the new funding includes full reimbursement for PPE, patient care, equipment, staffing and other costs. "These are the costs that climb amid a surge like omicron," he said.