CONGRESSMAN DELGADO & SENATOR SCHUMER HELP THE CENTER SECURE HHS FUNDING; CALL TCFD ‘THE GOLD STANDARD’

In early June, Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Antonio Delgado sent letters to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar advocating for The Center to receive critical funds for their COVID-19 pandemic protocols. On July 15th, both Delgado and Schumer jointly saluted The Center after the announcement that TCFD had secured over $1 Million in federal funding.  Everyone at The Center thanks Congressman Delgado and Senator Schumer for their continued support and advocacy.

We look forward to continuing our work, on both sides of the aisle, with all of our local, state, and national supporters to ensure children and adults with complex conditions are receiving the care they deserve.

HARRIS, NY—Following months of tireless correspondence and advocacy on behalf of the complex and medically fragile residents at the Center for Discovery in Sullivan County to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), today, U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) and U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (NY) jointly announced that they have successfully secured $1,009,580 in funding for the Center from the CARES Act HHS Provider Relief Fund. These funds will support the Center’s workers and patients in their COVID-19 response and allow the Center to continue their vital health care and education services for Americans with special needs.

“Our community ought to be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable populations and the Center for Discovery is the gold standard in specialized care for Americans with differing abilities. I am glad to see the Center has finally received urgently needed federal funds that will allow them to continue to provide invaluable care for our communities. These CARES Act funds will go a long way to allow the Center to continue their important work and take needed safety precautions to keep their employees and residents safe from the coronavirus,” said Rep. Delgado. “My office worked closely with the Center and Senator Schumer to advocate for these funds and while I am glad to see these funds distributed, these delays are unacceptable. I will continue to demand transparency and accountability in funding for our health care centers and most vulnerable populations across our district.”

“From day one of this pandemic, I have worked with the Center for Discovery to ensure they had the federal resources necessary to continue providing high quality care for their vulnerable patients with complex disabilities,” said Senator Schumer. “After months of our tireless advocacy, I’m happy to announce alongside Congressman Delgado that the Center has finally received over $1 million owed to them by the Provider Fund I negotiated to include in the CARES Act and Corona 3.5. Additionally, I was happy to assist the Center last week with their FEMA public assistance application that was stuck in the system for months and am happy to report that they can now unlock at least $1.5 million in reimbursement for PPE, pandemic housing, food supply, and more to protect our most vulnerable. I am proud to continue my support for the essential role carried out by the Center for Discovery as both a care provider and the largest employer in Sullivan County, and I will not rest until they have all the federal resources they need to continue their service for all of Upstate New York.”

“These stimulus funds are critical for The Center for Discovery as we try and recoup the enormous expenses we have faced during this devastating pandemic. We are still early in this crisis and there is much more to be done,” said Patrick Dollard, the President and CEO of The Center for Discovery. “Senator Schumer and Congressman Delgado have truly been our champions in this fight and we are enormously grateful to them. We know they will be by our side as we continue working with the federal government to make sure we have the resources we need to help us protect the most vulnerable.”

As Democratic Leader of the Senate, Schumer was a lead negotiator in the CARES Act earlier this year, securing over $100 billion for the HHS Provider Relief Fund and ensured over $1 million would be directed to the Center for Discovery. Letters from Senator Schumer and Congressman Delgado to HHS Secretary Alex Azar can be found below. Prior to this letter, in mid-May, Schumer assisted the Center in submitting a complaint and required documentation to the HHS Office of the Secretary. Continued correspondence between the Center for Discovery and HHS did not yield any updates on progress being made to resolve the issue, prompting Schumer and Delgado’s recent advocacy to HHS Secretary Azar.

TCFD is a leading provider of healthcare and education services for more than 1,200 children and adults with complex conditions, medical frailties and Autism Spectrum Disorders, located 90 miles northwest of New York City. Named a Center of Excellence in 2016, TCFD has long been a leader in developing new models of care for individuals with complex conditions. Located on 1,500 acres of land in Sullivan County, TCFD houses school campuses, residences, medical and research facilities, organic and biodynamic farmland, and leased private businesses offering meaningful employment opportunities. Deeply focused on an individual’s personal potential and possibilities, rather than a disability, TCFD strives to create better care and unique and challenging opportunities for the most vulnerable populations.

 

Below is the full text of Rep. Delgado’s and Senator Schumer’s letters: 

 

June 12, 2020

 

Dear Secretary Azar,

I’m writing on behalf of the Center for Discovery (TCFD), a top-tier medical institution located in Sullivan County, New York.

Unfortunately, TCFD is still awaiting its allocated funding from the Provider Relief Fund (as authorized by the CARES Act). I ask that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) immediately provide an update to TCFD on the status of its application for general distribution funding—and then transfer these funds as quickly as possible.

Not only is TCFD the largest private sector employer in Sullivan County, it is also a critical component of my district’s healthcare infrastructure. As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spread through New York, TCFD has maintained continuity of care for Upstate New Yorkers while also helping our community respond to this public health emergency. These essential services have not come free of cost, as the Center has lost $5 million in revenue in recent months while additional pandemic-related expenses have piled up.

After receiving just $13,904 from the general distribution fund for Medicare fee-for-service revenues, TCFD awaits further assistance from HHS in excess of $2 million. On May 29, my office contacted your department seeking an updated timeline for TCFD’s Provider Relief Fund distributions—a request that included the Center’s Taxpayer Identification Number, which should have allowed for an inquiry to be made. Two weeks later, no updates have been provided—either to my staff or to TCFD. After initially expecting additional funding to arrive via direct deposit on May 15, nearly a month has passed without any further assistance.

As a frontline healthcare provider in a critically underserved area, it is essential that TCFD receives this funding as quickly as possible. Again, I ask that your department immediately update TCFD on its application status and initiate a transfer of funds as quickly as possible.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

 

Below is Senator Schumer’s letter:

 

June 11, 2020

Dear Secretary Azar,

 

I am writing today on behalf of the Center for Discovery (TCFD) located in Sullivan County, New York, to raise awareness surrounding the unique struggles facing the research and specialty medical treatment center and to ask that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) quickly update the TCFD on the status of their claim for a greater allocation from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund (PHSSEF) and resolve the matter with all due haste.

The Center for Discovery is a world-class medical institution that provides care to over 1,200 children and adults from across the nation and the world in addition to being a leading research institute for care in complex populations. As the largest employer in Sullivan County, New York, with over 1,700 employees, TCFD is both the economic engine and health care lynchpin of its community. TCFD has continued to provide excellent care to its patients and support Sullivan County amid the crisis created by COVID-19. The disruptive impacts of the pandemic has resulted in the Center losing $5 million in revenue and accruing additional expenses in the last three months while caring for 350 patients around-the-clock, all of whom are medically compromised and highly vulnerable to coronavirus.

As you know, through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) Congress sought to support providers, like the TCFD, through its provision that included $100 billion for the PHSSEF. This funding was allocated to deliver relief for providers for COVID-19 related expenses and to make up for lost revenue. This was later augmented with an additional $75 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. HHS to date has delivered over $85 billion from the fund to providers.

The Department first distributed $50 billion to Medicare-eligible providers across the country based on their most recently available revenue data and additional revenue data submitted by these provider institutions. The Department justified this approach by claiming that this methodology would most quickly disburse the funds desperately needed by providers to respond to COVID-19 and the accompanying economic recession. However, individual providers such as TCFD discovered inadequacies in their allocations from the general distribution resulting in millions in lost relief.

TCFD received only $13,904 from the general distribution based on their available 2018 Medicare fee-for-service revenues but did not receive any disbursement based on their Medicaid or commercial revenues. These other coverage reimbursement categories make up over 67% of their total revenues meaning the Department has failed to account for tens of millions of dollars of the Center’s revenue in their calculation of the Center’s fund allocation.  The Center estimates that this has resulted in over $2 million dollars in lost relief that is critical for the Center to continue serving its patient and supporting the local economy.

On May 18, 2020, my office assisted the Center in submitting their complaint along with supporting documents describing this issue to staff within the Office of the Secretary in HHS. Your staff initially responded promptly that they would review the claim. The continued correspondence with your office has not yielded any updates on progress being made to resolve this issue; all the while the Center continues to suffer extreme financial difficulty with little of the federal support it is due.

I ask that you immediately provide an update on the status of the review of The Center for Discovery’s claim and resolve this matter quickly. HHS must move swiftly so that TCFD can continue their lifesaving and life-changing work of treating patients and transformational clinical research.

Thank you for your attention and work in supporting our nation’s providers.