President Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted that Republicans will withdraw from COVID-19 stimulus negotiations with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which likely means tens of billions in hospital aid will be delayed at least until after the election.
Hospitals had hoped to secure more grant funds to help healthcare providers offset coronavirus-related lost revenue and expenses. House Democrats' latest proposal would have included an additional $50 billion for the Provider Relief Fund. Stimulus talks had restarted and Trump had expressed support on Saturday, but he changed his stance Tuesday.
"I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business," Trump tweeted.
Trump blamed Pelosi's (D-Calif.) request for state and local government aid for his withdrawal, and instead asked Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to focus on the Supreme Court confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Pelosi criticized Trump's decision, citing comments made by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's stating too little stimulus from Congress could lead to a weak recovery, and create "unnecessary hardship" for households and businesses.
"Walking away from stimulus talks shows that President Trump is unwilling to crush the virus," Pelosi said in a written statement.
Other healthcare industry priorities that could have been included in the package were increasing additional Medicaid matching funds, increasing hospitals' disproportionate-share hospital payments, funds to assist state governments squeezed by the economic downturn, money for testing and contact tracing, grants for community health centers and billions for COVID-19 vaccine procurement and distribution. House Democrats' bill would have added subsidies for increasing subsidies for unemployed people on Affordable Care Act exchanges and clarified what COVID-19 tests insurers had to pay for.
The stock market plunged after Trump's announcement, and Trump has been running roughly 8 percentage points behind Biden in the FiveThirtyEight average of recent national polls. Trump's own bout with COVID-19 has cast national attention back onto the pandemic.