Hospitals get paid more to list patients as COVID-19

It’s simple math: Want 100% of your money? Say it’s Covid-19 – Corrupt Hospitals

  • It’s standard for Medicare to pay a hospital roughly three times as much for a patient who goes on a ventilator, as for one who doesn’t.
  • Medicare is paying a 20% add-on to its regular hospital payments for the treatment of COVID-19 victims. That’s a result of a federal stimulus law.
  • The claim’s suggestion is that the number of COVID-19 cases is being padded; but evidence indicates the cases are being undercounted.

Jensen said on Fox News that doctors are being encouraged to cite COVID-19 as a cause of death on death certificates and he suggested that money is a motivation.

Medicare has determined that a hospital gets paid $13,000 if a COVID-19 patient on Medicare is admitted and $39,000 if the patient goes on a ventilator, he claimed.

The federal government has decided to pay hospitals more for treating COVID-19 patients.

Medicare pays for inpatient hospital stays using a diagnosis-related group (DRG) payment system. The hospital assigns a code to a patient at the time of discharge, based mainly on the patient’s main diagnosis and treatment given. 

Medicare then pays the hospital a prescribed amount of money — regardless of what it actually cost the hospital to provide the care. The amount can vary in different parts of the country to account for labor costs and other factors.

There isn’t a Medicare diagnostic code specifically for COVID-19. Using payment rates for similar respiratory conditions, Kaiser estimated the average Medicare payment at $13,297 for a less severe hospitalization and $40,218 for hospitalization in which a patient is treated with a ventilator for at least 96 hours.

“A COVID patient on a ventilator will need more services and more complicated services, not just the ventilator,” said Joseph Antos, scholar in health care at the American Enterprise Institute. “It is reasonable that a patient who is on a ventilator would cost three times one who isn’t that sick.”

Medicare will pay hospitals a 20% “add-on” to the regular DRG payment for COVID-19 patients. That’s a result of the CARES Act, the largest of the three federal stimulus laws enacted in response to the coronavirus, which was signed into law March 27.

“This is no scandal,” Antos said. “The 20% was added by Congress because hospitals have lost revenue from routine care and elective surgeries that they can’t provide during this crisis, and because the cost of providing even routine services to COVID patients has jumped.”