Rural hospitals that have suspended non-urgent procedures as they brace for a surge in coronavirus patients have begun receiving a temporary financial lifeline from the federal government, members of New Mexico’s congressional and U.S. Senate delegation announced Wednesday.
Las Cruces-based U.S. Rep Xochitl Torres Small and Sen. Martin Heinrich said in a statement that the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City will receive an advance Medicare payment of $6.8 million.
A variety of rural hospitals and clinics are being starved of ordinary income as they postpone elective surgeries and procedures to open up beds and equipment for a likely upswing in patients infected with COVID-19.
State health officials reported three new virus-related deaths and 72 new infections, with 59 individuals hospitalized.
A state public health declaration bans nonessential business and outings, while testing for the coronavirus has been expanded to people without symptoms in nursing homes and those likely to have been exposed to infected people.
The accelerated Medicare payments to hospitals and clinics are an outcome of the most recent coronavirus aid package and its $100 billion grant program for medical providers to cover lost revenues linked to the pandemic.
Under the stimulus package, medical facilities such as acute care hospitals and some cancer hospitals can request a six-month advance on payments from Medicare, the national health insurance program for Americans over 65. Critical access hospitals can request up to 125%.