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Delayed Approval of Coronavirus Relief Bill Impacts Testing at N.H. Hospitals

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The delayed passing of the coronavirus relief package is impacting COVID-19 testing at New Hampshire hospitals.

Hospitals were contracted with the state to help conduct coronavirus testing across communities. But those contracts, along with the resources and funding through the CARES Act to support them, ended at the end of the year. Officials say Congress did not approve the relief bill soon enough to allow states to access additional funding before it expired.

Other testing sites in the state, like city public health and national guard sites, say they weren't impacted by this change.

Jamie LaRoche, director of provider network operations at Lakes Region General Healthcare, says it may become a challenge as demand for tests remains high.

"We have probably a three week-ish supply of test kits available. And so we're actually trying to reach out to the vendors to see if we can open our own accounts and start to get testing materials," LaRoche said.

Officials at St. Joseph's Hospital in Nashua say they relied on state support for their community testing site at Milford Medical Center, but since the state contract expired, moved testing back to the main St. Joseph's campus. They are no longer receiving state reimbursement for testing supplies or state coverage for people who are uninsured and want to get tested there.

CARES funding has been extended through the end of 2021, including $183 million for "testing, tracing and COVID mitigation funding." Officials say they still don't know when New Hampshire hospitals will be able to access those funds.

Hospitals say they still have enough testing supplies to service those who want to get tested.

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