The American Hospital Association and other provider groups have been lobbying for the Provider Relief Fund to be replenished, so far without success. According to HHS, the program's $178 billion has either been spent or set aside for pending distributions.
The AHA asked Congress for another $25 billion, citing financial pressure on hospitals related to the omicron and delta variants and to increased labor costs. That request appears to have fallen flat on Capitol Hill as the omicron variant wanes. Hospitalizations are down by about 38% compared to two weeks ago, according to the CDC.
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HHS has not made a formal request for $30 billion, but additional pandemic funding could be included in a spending bill Congress needs to pass next month to prevent a government shutdown.
"HHS leaders regularly engage with Congress about COVID resources, and in a Tuesday conversation with congressional staff, HHS discussed the status of COVID response funds as well as the need for additional resources to support securing more life-saving treatments and vaccines, sustaining testing capacity and investing in research and development of next-generation vaccines," an department spokesperson said in a statement.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki addressed pandemic resources during a news conference Tuesday. "We continue to have sufficient funds to respond to the current omicron surge," she said. "In the coming weeks, our goal has always been to ensure that we are well prepared to stay ahead of the virus."