U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers will vote to send $81 billion to disaster-hit states and territories before they go home to their districts for the holidays.
This amount is far less than the total requests of more than $190 billion. It includes just under $4 billion for HHS, labor and education appropriations. Most of that money will be education funding meant for Puerto Rican children displaced by Hurricane Maria, said subcommittee Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.).
The rest of the health funding will go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for public health funding, Cole said.
The price tag for health infrastructure still isn't known. Texas hospitals alone put their losses attributable to Hurricane Harvey at well over $400 million. Not all these hospitals are not-for-profit, which qualify for relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Puerto Rico, whose infrastructure was gutted, also faces a Medicaid funding cut in 2018 that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus fear will be "disastrous."
"There is an urgent need to address this issue now, and ensure that millions of Puerto Ricans do not face a healthcare emergency early next year as funds are reduced," members of the congressional group wrote to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Monday.
But appropriators say this won't be the last package and more money will come as the full scope of the damage across the country is determined.
FEMA is still in the early stages of assessing reimbursable losses across all the disaster regions, a spokesperson told Modern Healthcare on Friday.
Health systems don't have to get all their assistance from FEMA. Larger cities like Orlando get direct funding, and states receive pass-through funding that they can distribute to hard-hit providers.