Report: Trump Admin. To Cover Hospital Bills For Uninsured Coronavirus Patients
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the Trump administration plans to pay hospitals for treating uninsured coronavirus patients using a federal stimulus package, provided the hospitals do not bill the patients or toss in unexpected charges.
The move would come as the Trump administration remains under fire for deciding not to reopen Obamacare marketplaces for the uninsured to purchase coverage, and also as pressure mounts from Democrats to offer assistance to Americans who have lost their employer-sponsored insurance due to the outbreak.
Under the administration’s proposal, the Journal reported, hospitals would be barred from billing patients for any difference between the cost of care and the amount paid by the government — a common practice. It would also bar separate bills for charges from doctors who are not directly employed by the hospital. The Journal reported that hospitals, which collectively “provided more than $38 billion in uncompensated care in 2017,” are eager for assistance during the coronavirus crisis.
Hospital leaders have said they are concerned about the costs they could incur because a soaring number of people are losing jobs and employer-provided health care. About 6.6 million Americans filed last week for unemployment benefits, a record for the second week in a row, and the unemployment rate for March rose to 4.4% from 3.5% in February, the largest one-month increase in the rate since January 1975.
Thomas Nickels, executive vice president of the American Hospital Association, wrote to lawmakers on March 17 relaying hospitals’ concerns.“We know that hospital resources will be stretched beyond capacity as a result of this epidemic,” he said in the letter.