HAP Resource Center

Fact Sheet: Health Care Heroes and Public Health Preparedness Act


Grant Program Proposal Overview

To address the needs of the hospital workforce, communities, and the economy as a whole, HAP is proposing the Health Care Heroes and Public Health Preparedness Act:

  • $650 million in federal funding would be allocated to this program
  • This legislation would create defined award criteria, and the responsibility for distributing grant funding would be delegated to an appropriate administrative agency. Funds would be distributed based on demonstrated need until depleted
  • The legislation would ensure that funds could not be used to reimburse expenses or losses that have been fully reimbursed from other sources
  • Grant recipients would be required to submit applicable reports and maintain documentation, and subject to audit by the state Office of the Auditor General



Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center COVID-19 staffAs part of the federal American Rescue Plan Act, Pennsylvania will receive $7.293 billion dollars and other directed resources to help the state address the pandemic and its economic fallout. These dollars can be used to respond to or mitigate COVID-19 and its economic impact.

A significant portion of this amount should be made available to promote key commonwealth priorities related to COVID-19—such as restoring the health care workforce, strengthening the public health infrastructure, and addressing behavioral health capacity.

Hospitals have embraced their role on the front lines to combat this crisis even in the wake of devastating financial impacts. In addition, hospitals are economic anchors in their communities. During fiscal year 2019, hospitals directly and indirectly supported more than 660,000 jobs, employed more than 291,000 Pennsylvanians, and contributed $143 billion to state and local economies.

The General Assembly can continue to promote core commonwealth priorities by making grant funding available to hospitals to ensure they have resources needed to provide essential services for their patients.

Eligible Purposes for Grant Funding Requests

Restoring the Health Care Workforce

Prior to the pandemic, hospitals struggled to develop and maintain a robust workforce:

  • With the onset of COVID-19, many clinical professionals have moved up retirement plans or otherwise chosen to leave the workforce
  • Staff have been exposed to extraordinary amounts of stress and many are in need of behavioral health support, wellness, and resiliency programs
  • Hospitals have implemented more innovative ways to deliver health care to patients (including telehealth); these changes require significant training resources to ensure that health care workforce can keep pace with technological innovations
  • Examples of possible grant requests include:
    • ​Funding for employee counseling and resiliency programs for the health care workforce
    • Training programs to support innovative care delivery models (e.g. telemedicine)
    • Creating retention programs for high-need clinical staff impacted by COVID-19

Mount Nittany Medical Center COVID-19 staffStrengthening and Maintaining Public Health Infrastructure

To maintain access to care, the viability of hospitals, and the health of their communities, it is important to provide an opportunity for hospitals to seek and obtain federal funding for hospitals to support public health efforts and invest in needed technology and clinical expansion.

  • Many hospitals have suffered massive financial losses and incurred costs which were not covered by the federal government due to flaws in the federal distribution methodology
  • The COVID-19 Disaster Emergency Report issued early during 2021 by the Pennsylvania Healthcare Cost Containment Council (PHC4) found that hospitals reported $4.9 billion in COVID-19-related expenses and revenue losses from January through September 2020
PHC4’s report complemented an analysis by Health Management Associates commissioned by HAP, which estimated that hospitals statewide incurred losses in excess of $5 billion due to temporary closures and curtailing of non-emergent treatments.


  • Federal funding fell far short of the losses and costs incurred by hospitals, and continued support is necessary to ensure they are able to perform as the economic and health care flagships for their communities
  • Examples of possible grant requests include:
    • ​Public health infrastructure programs to prepare for future health emergencies
    • Vaccination outreach or other programs targeting underserved communities
    • Structural improvements to provide appropriate care in post-COVID-19 environments

Addressing Behavioral Health/Post-Acute Capacity and Barriers

COVID-19 has exposed the existing, well-documented crisis of inadequate post-acute placements:

  • There is a significant need to address behavioral health capacity issues to allow patients who are medically stable for discharge to access post-acute care
  • Delays result in bottlenecks that restrict access for new patients requiring hospital-level care, especially during the pandemic
  • Examples of possible grant requests include:
    • ​Equipment/software to implement telepsychiatry programs in rural or underserved areas
    • Community programs to recruit and train behavioral health providers in high-need areas
    • Programs to support personal care home capacity efforts in communities experiencing discharge delays due to the unavailability of housing



Photos courtesy of Mount Nittany Medical Center and Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.




Topics: Emergency Preparedness, State Advocacy

Revision Date: 3/19/2021

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