Hospitals across the state that rely on a combined $6 billion money from a program within Medicaid could be out of luck if Congress fails to fund the government by next month. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday in Fulton County action is needed.
"The need to do it is more urgent than ever because of the desperation that COVID creates," Schumer said.
Schumer highlighted the millions of dollars the Nathan Littauer hospital could lose if Congress does not act in the coming weeks. Littauer and hospitals like it provide employment and health care in a rural upstate county. But hospitals across the country have been under the strain of the pandemic.
"Hospitals like Littauer in less densely populated areas operate on very tight budgets," Schumer said. "They always do. But now it's worse because of COVID."
Schumer wants two major spending bills. One would provide an economic stimulus for small businesses and people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Another would fund the federal government and avoid a shutdown. Schumer says he expects both will be a challenge.
"There's a move by some in Congress to cut everything and spend no money," he said. "The very same people who don't want to fund COVID don't want to fund this program."
Beyond treating COVID-19 patients, Nathan Littauer Hospital is expected to play a key role in vaccine distribution once one is available to the general public. Hospital CEO Sean Fadale says that could be complicated if federal support isn't there.
"For us to be able to do that effectively, again, in the face of these cuts, it would be incredibly challenging to get these vaccines out," Fadale said.
The funding must be in place by December 11, that's the date the government would shut down if a spending bill isn't approved.