IHA Urges HHS to Provide Funds to High-Impact Areas

May 29, 2020

Today, IHA sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, urging additional provider relief funds appropriated by Congress be directed to hospitals in high-impact areas.

“As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to seriously impact Chicago, Cook County and other areas of the country we request an additional targeted distribution for high-impact areas be made from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund. Specifically, funding is urgently needed to assist hospitals serving high numbers of Medicaid and uninsured patients, as well as communities of color, which have been disproportionately harmed by the virus. The Chicago Department of Public Health found that as of May 27, African-American and Latino individuals accounted for more than 77 percent of all positive cases and 75 percent of all deaths,” wrote IHA President & CEO A.J. Wilhelmi.

The CARES Act provided $175 billion to the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to assist providers in preparing for and responding to COVID-19. A previous $12 billion allocation from the fund has been made to providers in high-impact areas who had at least 100 inpatient COVID-19 admissions by April 10.

Chicago HEAL Report Shows Hospitals’ Successes in Year 1
U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) on Thursday released the first-year report of the Chicago HEAL Initiative (Hospital Engagement, Action and Leadership), which he launched in October 2018 with 10 health systems to reduce violence and improve health by engaging residents in 18 vulnerable neighborhoods.

HEAL participants are: Advocate Aurora Health, AMITA Health, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Cook County Health and Hospitals System, Loyola Medicine, Northwestern Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, Sinai Health System, UChicago Medicine and University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System.

With strong commitments from participating HEAL hospitals, the first report shows significant progress in local hiring and procurement, job training and mentorship, housing, and mental health activities. Between 2018 and 2019:

  • 3,742 individuals were hired from the HEAL neighborhoods;
  • 5,177 patients were paired with trauma-informed, post-injury counseling services;
  • $134 million was spent in local procurement of supplies and services;
  • 11,688 students benefited from apprenticeship and healthcare career development programs; and
  • 75,625 patients were screened for trauma and social determinants of health, with 1,099 hospital staff trained on these screenings.

“These hospitals are world class centers of healing, but the neighborhoods surrounding these hospitals often face poverty, lack of opportunity, trauma and chronic disease—all contributing to a gap in life expectancy of 16 years,” Sen. Durbin said in a video message. “We launched the HEAL Initiative to use the economic footprint of these hospitals and their healthcare expertise to address the root causes of violence in 18 neighborhoods across Chicago.”

Sen. Durbin also identified COVID-19 as magnifying racial and economic disparities and reinforcing the role of hospitals as anchors in the neighborhoods they serve.

In lauding the hospitals’ efforts, he said, “I’ve seen so many of these programs in action. I want to commend these hospitals for their dedication, for lifting up the health and economic conditions of the neighborhoods around them.”

IHA worked closely with HEAL hospitals and Sen. Durbin to deliver an inspiring first-year report, as we continue to partner to advance health and opportunity in Chicago and throughout the state. Read the full report.

Register for June 1 Webinar on Fair Workweek Rules
Chicago hospital leaders are encouraged to participate in Monday’s webinar on rules pertaining to the city’s Fair Workweek ordinance. Held from 10-11:30 a.m., the program is co-hosted by IHA and the Chicago Office of Labor Standards (OLS).

During the program, OSL Director Andrew Fox will explain the new rules and answer questions from hospital leaders. On May 12, OLS published Fair Workweek rules, which include rules related to COVID-19.

The Chicago City Council passed the Fair Workweek ordinance (O2019-3928) last July and amended the rules (O2020-2370) on May 20 to delay until Jan. 1, 2021 the private right of action provision (i.e., an employee’s right to sue) for an employer’s noncompliance with the scheduling requirements.

Webinar registration is through the city’s Webex platform.