Trump said they were going to divert some of the $100 billion in hospital funding that was included in the CARES Act stimulus bill, but they still haven’t figured out the mechanics of that or how it’s going to pay out another funding approval Congress passed more than a month ago to cover testing costs for the uninsured: the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Hospitals don’t know what the hell they’re supposed to do, with some of them now holding off billing to wait to see if the reimbursement comes to them. Some are offering financial assistance to patients directly, presuming they’ll see the money from the feds someday. Some are billing uninsured patients thousands of dollars just for testing.
News stories like that are likely to lead to more uninsured people deciding not to seek testing—which could lead to more infections—or to decide not to seek treatment, which could lead to death. “The thing that is totally missing is any explanation for patients,” Sara Rosenbaum, a health law professor at George Washington University, told Politico. “If you don’t have to worry about getting care because the hospital is supposed to care for you, and the hospital bills you, what then? There has been absolutely no communication to the public.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services told Politico it is “finalizing” plans for covering uninsured people in the pandemic, but had no timeline. It just said it would happen “in the very near future.” Another representative said they’re working on getting the $100 billion hospital funding “out as fast as possible.” It was passed and signed and appropriated three weeks ago. That’s the money they plan on carving up to cover the uninsured—which the Kaiser Family Foundation says could cost as much as $42 billion. That’s closing in on half of the total funds for hospitals that are drowning in coronavirus patients, losing all the revenue from all the other care they would normally be providing.
If it’s not the malignant efforts of Trump and his minions that kills us all, it will be their sheer incompetence. What a lethal combination.