By: Katherine M. Hanna
March 26, 2020
On March 19, 2020, Governor Sununu issued Emergency Order #9, which establishes the Emergency Healthcare System Relief Fund. “The Order creates a $50M fund to provide emergency relief to hospitals and other healthcare providers that are serving an essential component of the State’s healthcare system during the COVID-19 state of emergency.” The State has produced a simple two-page Application for such emergency funds and has announced that the first deadline for Applications will be the close of business Monday, March 30, 2020.
Thus far, the State has not issued guidance that delineates which healthcare providers are “considered an essential component of the State’s Healthcare System during the COVID-19 state of emergency.” Arguably, the definition of “healthcare providers” should include those essential healthcare providers who continue to operate in the midst of COVID-19 to provide essential and sometimes emergency healthcare services to those who otherwise could not access these healthcare services in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and who continue to face dire financial consequences during this pandemic.
We have received communications from NH DHHS that may, however, limit emergency fund resources to those who are treating or are able to treat patients with COVID-19. Therefore, it is possible that others who file Applications for these funds will be rejected because in the view of NH DHHS they are not on the “front-line of treating COVID-19”. It remains to be seen whether the NH DHHS will be convinced that these Emergency Funds should also be allocated to those healthcare providers who, because of their emergency treatment of non-COVID patients, serve to stem the tide of COVID-19 and therefore free up hospitals and emergency departments from the influx of COVID-19 patients. For example, it is yet to be seen if the State will give funding assistance to Substance Use Disorder providers who are treating patients to stabilize them before they reach the hospital emergency room; or rural physician practices who provide essential medical care to their patients to prevent potential hospitalizations.
We will keep you apprised of any new guidelines regarding eligibility for these emergency funds. In the meanwhile, healthcare providers should consider filing an Application by the end of the day on March 30th if they believe that they are “serving an essential component of the State’s Healthcare System during the COVID-19 state of emergency.”