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Trump administration wants to use hospitals' $100 billion to cover uninsured

The American Hospital Association is urging other options, such as opening up a special enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

The American Hospital Association is urging the Trump administration to look at other options to provide coverage for treatment of the uninsured for the coronavirus, other than using the $100 billion earmarked for hospitals from the emergency fund of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Options include opening up a special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicaid and using the National Disaster Medical System or other federal emergency programs, AHA president and CEO Rick Pollack said.

Hospitals and health systems also support the various proposals from members of Congress for a new, separate fund to specifically address the costs associated with treatment of the uninsured.

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But the Trump administration wants to use some of the $100 billion to compensate hospitals for treating the uninsured.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Hospitals need an injection of stimulus money to pay for personal protection equipment, supplies, staff and more in the care of coronavirus patients. They've sustained losses due to the cancellation of their money-making elective surgeries.

Using the $100 billion to make up for the cost of caring for the uninsured takes money away from using the CARES Act funds just to keep the doors open and make payroll.

Some hospitals have announced layoffs due to the lack of revenue.

THE LARGER TREND

Hospitals are still waiting for the Department of Health and Human Services to make the $100 billion available to them.

The American Hospital Association has asked HHS to send the $100 billion directly to hospitals through Medicare Administrative Contractors. The MACs can process applications and make payments either to individual hospitals or to a health system, the AHA said.

The AHA wants $23 billion distributed immediately, for every hospital to get $25,000 per hospital bed and $30,000 per bed for hospitals in COVID-19 hotspots.

But President Donald Trump said during an April 3 White House briefing that money earmarked for hospitals in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package would help cover uninsured patients.

Insurers are covering coronavirus testing. Major insurers have announced other cost coverage.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com