Public health experts, state officials, and frontline medical workers are sounding the alarm and demanding an urgent change of course as the Trump administration disproportionately allocates Covid-19 relief funds to higher-revenue hospitals while restricting the flow of aid to providers that primarily serve low-income people.
The Los Angeles Times reported late last week that the Trump administration’s “program to aid hospitals and doctors on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis is leaving behind the nation’s Medicaid safety net—the pediatricians, mental health providers, and hospitals that serve the poorest patients.”
“That result is likely to deepen inequalities in America’s healthcare system as tens of billions of dollars of federal assistance go primarily to large medical systems that serve higher-income patients with Medicare or private health insurance,” the Times noted.
The CARES Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law in late March, included $100 billion in funding for U.S. hospitals, and the interim stimulus bill passed last month authorized $75 billion more.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has wide discretion over how those funds are distributed, and critics are warning that the Trump administration is using that authority to deny relief to providers that serve more vulnerable populations. As Common Dreams reported last month, the White House tapped the nation’s largest private health insurer, UnitedHealth Group, to help distribute $30 billion in hospital funds.
“I don’t want to point fingers, but it seems like it’s the big players who are the ones who got listened to,” Dr. Assaad Sayah, CEO of the Massachusetts-based provider Cambridge Health Alliance, told the Times. “Who is sitting at the table when decisions are being made? I know it’s not me. It’s not organizations like us.”
As Rachana Pradhan and Lauren Weber of Kaiser Health News reported last month, “the $30 billion was distributed to more than 300,000 entities around the country but the decision to rely on past Medicare billings meant many providers hardly got a bite of the apple, including children’s hospitals and nursing homes, which predominantly rely on Medicaid and other programs for reimbursement.”
Raw Story: ‘A travesty’: Trump restricting COVID-19 relief funds from hospitals serving nation’s poorest
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