Suozzi, other NY reps push for more federal hospital funds

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Suozzi, other NY reps push for more federal hospital funds
U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and other bipartisan members of Congress throughout New York, implored the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to increase federal funding for state hospitals. (Photo by Teri West)

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) is part of a bipartisan effort to provide New York hospitals with an increase in federal funding in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no time for politics here. The state of New York needs special help as we are bearing the brunt of this pandemic,” Suozzi said. “This is affecting us at all levels and we are getting hurt from every angle.”

Suozzi, along with Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), Peter King (R-Seaford), Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), and other members of Congress throughout New York sent a letter April 10 to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma imploring them to prioritize the state’s hospitals.

New York and New Jersey contend their states were shortchanged in the funding appropriated by Congress in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which was passed March 20. The emergency law allowed Health and Human Services to facilitate the allocations of $100 billion in grants to hospitals and doctors throughout the country.

The funding, according to the bipartisan letter, “was meant to cover essential expenses for hospitals including increased staffing, expanded bed capacity, and much-needed personal protective equipment.”

According to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York has 242,786, or 31 percent, of the nation’s 786,795 cases. New York received $1.86 billion, according to federal data. That amount is less than the $2.9 billion for California with 4 percent of cases, $2.2 billion for Florida with 3.6 percent of cases, and $2.1 billion for Texas with 2.2 percent of cases, according to federal data.

“They’re basing this on Medicare numbers from 2019, which has nothing to do with the crisis that’s going on right now,” Suozzi said. “The intention of Congress was to take care of those places that needed the help the most.”

According to a Kaiser Health News analysis, New York will receive approximately $12,000 per confirmed case in the state.  A state such as Nebraska, where 1,287 people have tested positive for the virus, will receive more than $379,000 per case.

Kaiser estimated New Jersey, where 85,301 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, will receive around $18,000 per case.

The bipartisan representatives from New York and New Jersey sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) April 10 and proposed the idea of $40 billion in additional federal aid to states.

“As of April 10th, our states have more confirmed cases than the next 18 highest states combined,” the letter said. “New York and New Jersey are not alone in the suffering and costs of responding to the pandemic, but federal aid has not been allocated proportionally to the impact of the virus.”

The letter was signed by all 36 members of Congress from the two states including Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx), Grace Meng (D-Flushing), Andy Kim, (D-NJ), and Christopher Smith (R-NJ).

For Suozzi, the ongoing battle against the virus became more personal as the father of his wife Helene, Michael Wrotniak Jr., died April 13, two days after testing positive for the coronavirus.

“We’ll miss you, big Mike,” Suozzi said on Facebook. “I got lucky in the father-in-law department. This is a big loss for Helene and us all. Coronavirus is personal.”

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