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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The federal government is sending $64 billion to hospitals, post-acute facilities and other medical providers to help cope with the coronavirus fallout.

Yes, but: Even though more funding is coming, safety net and rural hospitals fear they are getting a raw deal from the way some of the money is being distributed.

The big picture: Hospitals and other providers requested funding to offset higher labor and supply costs as well as lost revenue from elective surgeries and procedures that had to be halted. Those federal funds, part of the most recent stimulus package, are now flowing.

Where it stands: The federal government is doling out $30 billion in no-strings-attached bailouts, out of the $100 billion that was authorized, but some facilities that treat vulnerable patients are worried about the way that money is being distributed.

  • The government's funding mechanism is "going to widen the disparities" between safety-net providers and large hospital systems that already have large cash reserves, said Beth Feldpush, a top executive at America's Essential Hospitals.
  • Hospitals' and other providers' share of that $30 billion will be based on their historical Medicare revenue. That's a good deal for hospices, home health companies and dialysis facilities, which primarily treat Medicare patients, according to an analysis from Spencer Perlman, an analyst at Veda Partners.
  • But safety net and rural hospitals, some of which are in coronavirus hotspots right now, typically treat a lot of uninsured and Medicaid patients and worry they won't be getting paid proportionally.

"Rural hospitals are going to close this year," Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, said of the initial funding distribution. "There will be a lot of blame to go around."

Hospitals have also tapped a separate $34 billion pot, which will be administered as "advance payments" from Medicare — essentially loans. Hospitals can request up to six months of advance payments, and have to repay it within a year before interest starts to accrue.

  • Those loans will immediately give providers cash t0 cover payroll and other expenses, but the loans will be easier for big systems to repay.
  • NewYork-Presbyterian, a tax-exempt hospital system in New York City that has recorded $1.7 billion of cumulative profit in the past three years, requested $700 million in advance Medicare payments, CEO Steven Corwin told Axios.
  • Publicly traded Tenet Healthcare expects $1.5 billion from this program.

What's next: There will be more money coming hospitals' way — and they also have more requests.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

4 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.