Hospitals Face Financial Hardship As COVID-19 Continues To Surge

hospitals, finances, funding, American Hospital Association, Health and Human Services, coronavirus

Hospitals on the front lines of treating the coronavirus pandemic are projecting staggering losses, some as high as $50 billion a month, according to an NPR report on Thursday (April 23).

“I think it’s fair to say that hospitals are facing perhaps the greatest challenge that they have ever faced in their history,” said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association.

The American Hospital Association and several other national hospital groups sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) asking the agency to make improvements to the Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Program. Most hospitals can get up to six months of Medicare payments in advance. 

“We’re being faced with what I would call a triple whammy. We have the increased expenses that have been incurred in terms of preparing for the surge and caring for the COVID-19 patients. And then we have the decreased revenues associated with having shut down regular operations in terms of scheduled procedures,” Pollack said. “You combine that with the increased number of uninsured as a result of the economic situation, and you’ve got a triple whammy there.”

The CARES Act gave $30 billion in aid to hospitals nationwide last month and on Friday (April 23) another $20 billion was dispersed. Funding isn’t expected to go out this week, however. People familiar with discussions at HHS told the Wall Street Journal that officials will handle the distribution of the new funding the same way they did with the March package. 

HHS Secretary Alex Azar is “ensuring the approach to distribution represents the best thinking across the government,” an HHS spokeswoman said.  

She added that the HHS is “committed to distributing the relief funds in a way that is fast, fair, simple and transparent.” 

Hospitals across the U.S. have been busy sending banks requests for new lines of credit as they face thin revenue streams from having to eliminate all but the most essential services for the coronavirus outbreak.