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Analysis: Some states getting $300K per coronavirus case, New York getting $12K
Some states are getting significantly more funding to fight the coronavirus per case compared to other, harder-hit states, according to a new analysis released Friday.
Analysis from Kaiser Health found that states like Minnesota, Nebraska and Montana are getting more than $300,000 per reported COVID-19 case, while New York, the hardest-hit state, is receiving roughly $12,000 per case. Florida, which is also grappling with a serious outbreak, is getting $132,000 per case.
The funds are coming from $30 billion in emergency grants from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS said Friday that it is granting hospitals and doctors money according to their historical share of revenue from the Medicare program for seniors and not according to the number of coronavirus patients they are treating.
It is "woefully insufficient to address the financial challenges facing hospitals at this time, especially those located in 'hot spot' areas such as the New York City region," Kenneth Raske, CEO of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said in a memo to association members.
The $2.2 trillion relief package President Trump signed into law last week gives HHS wide latitude to dole out a total of $100 billion in grants to hospitals and doctors, the first round of which is currently being distributed.
"It seems weird that they wouldn't just target areas geographically based on where the surge has been," Chas Roades, CEO of Gist Healthcare, a consulting firm, told Kaiser Health News.
New Jersey Sens. Bob Menendez (D) and Cory Booker (D) and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D), who represent the state with the second-most COVID-19 cases, ripped HHS's handling of the funds in a Friday letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, saying it does not do enough to help states grappling with more serious outbreaks.
"We are extremely disappointed that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has failed to consider Congressional intent in distributing the first tranche of funding from the CARES Act," the trio wrote. "The methodology proposed by HHS to distribute the initial $30 billion fails to account for the number of COVID-19 cases hospitals are treating and does not address the higher losses faced by hospitals and health care providers in the hardest hit states."
HHS has defended its handling of the funds, telling Kaiser Health News the initial method based on Medicare revenue "allowed us to make initial payments to providers as quickly as possible."