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Fight for FEMA Reimbursement Continues

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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two-and-a-half years, California’s hospitals took extraordinary measures to protect and save lives — radically changing their operations, their staffing structures, their physical space, and more. Tens of thousands of families remain whole as a result. 

This did not come without a cost. In 2020 and 2021, California hospitals lost more than $12 billion, even after federal Provider Relief Funds, and now more than half of all hospitals are operating with a negative margin.  

To help offset some of these losses, CHA has been working with federal officials to ensure that more than $532 million in reimbursable expenses from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are quickly delivered to eligible hospitals and health systems. Federal officials have stated that delays in processing California hospitals’ applications for reimbursement are related to the need to ensure that none of the expenses have been paid for by other sources. CHA is working closely with the American Hospital Association and others to ensure the methodology developed by FEMA to prevent “duplication of benefits” is equitable. 

Late last month, in partnership with Region 9 FEMA and the California Office of Emergency Services, CHA hosted a webinar providing an overview of an expedited payment process. It included information on how to not only navigate the application process but also request an expedited payment while applications are still processing. 

While these FEMA funds do not offset the deep losses hospitals endured during the pandemic, it is essential that every resource available for hospitals to deliver care be utilized as you navigate uncharted financial waters in the coming years.