JAMESTOWN, Tenn. — After 10News uncovered thousands of coronavirus relief dollars given to the shuttered Jamestown Regional Medical Center, the Department of Health and Human Services said it will "force repayment," but did not give any details.
The only hospital in Fentress county closed last June. Its owner, Rennova, owes millions in unpaid federal taxes, but received $121,722 for the closed Jamestown facility.
An HHS spokesperson said in a written statement Monday night, "At the direction of President Trump, HHS is moving as fast as possible to provide resources and relief to American healthcare providers."
It is using old Medicare payment information to send the money.
"We will continue to review the data and information to ensure accurate and appropriate payment. Once HHS confirms that a provider has closed, we will initiate an action to force repayment without having to go through the audit process," the statement said.
The spokesperson has not yet answered a follow-up question on how so-called "forced repayment" will work.
For future rounds of relief funding, the spokesperson said the department is establishing a process to remove closed organizations from its files.
In a statement Tuesday, Congressman Tim Burchett said he would seek an explanation from HHS on how Jamestown got relief funding.
"There has clearly been a mistake if an out-of-business hospital that's millions behind on federal taxes and hasn't paid its former employees was able to receive federal COVID-19 assistance. It's a shame this could happen," he said.