The Price of CARES Funding
When the pandemic began in early March and COVID-19 cases began to surge, the screeching halt to elective procedures and low patient volumes across the country signaled one thing for health systems — financial turmoil. It became clear quite fast that relief was needed for hospitals to keep their lights on and answer the call in our most dire hours. Relief came. But not without more trouble.
When congress threw health systems a $175 billion lifeline, it helped keep doors open but was far from magic or a long-term fix compared to the projected losses health systems were facing. Sure, $175 billion sounds like a lot of money, but health systems have reported trouble getting past all of the red tape, and some have been vocal about the money not even getting to the hospitals or communities who need it the most.
With all this relief money floating around, a false perception has built around the consumer that the CARES funding is enough to fix challenges like PPE, equipment and staffing. We know that’s not the case. But with some large for-profit health systems bolstered by high Q2 profits thanks to CARES funding, the public misperception that hospitals are in a good position is only being reinforced. The industry is coming under criticism for these high profits while simultaneously lobbying for more aid.
Payors have received their fair criticism for their profits during the pandemic as well. But now with providers in the hot seat, be on the lookout for payors to leverage the current public chatter to divert attention away from their money-hungry habits and use it to spin the narrative during negotiations.