WASHINGTON — New York’s congressional delegation is calling on FEMA to speed up the distribution of pandemic-related financial assistance to hospitals and other healthcare facilities across the state.

What You Need To Know

  • The state's congressional delegation is urging FEMA to speed up the distribution of pandemic aid to New York hospitals

  • All 29 members of Congress from New York - both Republicans and Democrats - signed the letter

  • New York’s hospitals were inundated early on in the pandemic

  • FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell is the former head of emergency management for New York City

In a bipartisan letter signed by all 29 members of Congress from New York, the lawmakers say the “ongoing delays in FEMA funding for expenses incurred in prior patient waves inhibits hospitals’ abilities to address current challenges and the continued impact of the pandemic.”

New York’s hospitals were inundated in the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, when the state bore the brunt of the initial wave of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

The letter, dated Feb. 17, is addressed to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and was spearheaded by Sen. Charles Schumer along with Reps. Ritchie Torres, a Democrat, and John Katko, a Republican.

Criswell is the former head of emergency management for New York City, which the lawmakers make note of in the letter, saying she is “acutely aware of the impact COVID-19 had on New York City and communities across the state in 2020 and the accompanying financial costs.”

The lawmakers urge FEMA to identify ways to streamline the application process for assistance, including reducing upfront documentation requirements.

“New York’s health care providers across the state continue to endure major staffing and capacity challenges that we believe require immediate, robust federal support and reimbursement flexibilities,” they write.

In the letter, the lawmakers also ask FEMA to consider policy changes, including making hazard pay a non-discretionary expense and reimbursing healthcare providers for expenses related to providing temporary housing and childcare for their employees.

A FEMA spokesperson says they have received the letter and will be working on a response.

Last year, FEMA agreed to reimburse New York City’s public hospital system $1 billion for COVID-related expenses.