PATERSON, NJ – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today participated in a call with several members of the New Jersey congressional delegation to discuss New Jersey’s response to and urgent remaining needs during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A copy of his opening remarks is provided below.
I want to start by acknowledging Frank Pallone, my colleagues, and Governor Murphy. During this crisis, we have been as united as a delegation as I have ever seen, and I thank them for that.
We cannot get our economy and our lives back to normal until we get ahead of the virus. Our hospitals and first responders are on the front lines of that effort.
The CARES Act was written to give relief to hospitals and providers. But the administration decided the first wave of funding should not go to the states with high COVID-19 case numbers. With the second-most cases, this shafted our state.
The New Jersey delegation called out these flaws. We wrote to HHS twice. I led a letter with both tristate members demanding the $100 billion fund be prioritized for states with the most cases of COVID-19. And our delegation pushed back on the flawed formula based on Medicare claims.
We have the second most cases. But New Jersey received the second least amount of funding per case. Some states with hundreds of cases received hundreds of thousands of dollars each. With 50,000 cases, New Jersey received approximately $18,000 per case. Conversely, West Virginia with 500 cases got $470,000 per case!
We expect the next wave of funding to be announced in a few days, and it had damn well better go to target hard-hit states like ours and hospitals that depend on Medicaid and serve more uninsured patients. There are no excuses why this was ignored.
We need more funding for hospitals. And after seeing how doled out the last round, I’m pushing my colleagues on Ways and Means and leadership to ensure future funding has guardrails and a fair formula. Hospitals and providers cannot continue to treat patients at this rate or be subject to partisan political whims.
Before I yield, I also want to say that we appreciate Governor Murphy’s advocacy for repealing the federal SALT cap. Our counties and our towns are going to have major budget issues. We cannot have this double tax constraining their ability to respond to this virus and get back on their feet.
We have together demanded that repealing the SALT cap - which the House voted for last year and is being held up in the Senate - be included in the next coronavirus response package.