Lawmakers should allocate at least another $1 billion in emergency funding for the coronavirus response, according to a letter from health care provider groups to congressional leaders.
The letter from the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association urged lawmakers to ensure that the next economic stimulus package includes funding to ensure that hospitals, health systems, physicians and nurses are "directly supported" for preparedness response.
The groups said the additional funding is needed for specific priorities, including ramping up infection controls, increasing the number of patient beds, building or retrofitting separate areas to screen and treat coronavirus patients and obtaining scarce protection supplies like masks and ventilators.
The groups also said hospitals and nurses need financial support because of the impact of canceling elective surgeries and procedures due to shortages of protective equipment, as well as patient fears.
"Such cancellations could have devastating financial implications for hospitals, physicians and nurses already at financial risk and may limit access to care," the groups wrote.
The House early Saturday passed legislation aimed at mitigating the economic impact of the coronavirus epidemic, including provisions that would ensure that workers can take paid sick or family leave, bolster unemployment insurance and guarantee that all Americans can get free diagnostic testing for the coronavirus.
The Senate is expected to vote on the bill later this week, as the House still needs to pass "technical" corrections.