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HCA's hospitals are closing the books on a profitable Q3, despite the pandemic. Photo: Rusty Russell/Getty Images

HCA Healthcare is giving back $1.6 billion of federal bailout payments and paying back $4.4 billion in Medicare loans early. The money was intended to help hospitals weather the pandemic as patients delayed elective care.

Why it matters: Over the summer, the hospital industry said the pandemic was resulting in "the greatest financial crisis we have ever faced in our history." But HCA expects to report higher revenue and adjusted profits in the third quarter.

By the numbers: The taxpayer bailout payments represented 55% of HCA's profit in the second quarter.

  • Hospitals and other health care providers secured $175 billion in bailouts from Congress since the start of the pandemic.

What they're saying: HCA CEO Sam Hazen said in a press release that returning the funds and repaying the loans early was "appropriate and the socially responsible thing to do."

What we're watching: Finances at other large hospital systems similarly improved in the second quarter, compared with the first quarter.

  • That trend likely could continue as more people rescheduled surgeries and saw their doctors, despite the persistence of coronavirus cases throughout the country.

Go deeper

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.

Updated 28 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker