Apr 22, 2019

How "Medicare for All" would affect hospitals

Sens. Bernie Sanders and Kirsten Gillibrand introducing the "Medicare for All Act of 2019" in April. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

One of the most important questions regarding a "Medicare for All" system in which private insurance disappears is how hospitals would be paid. The answer has huge implications, the NYT reports.

The big picture: Private insurance pays much higher rates for the same services than Medicare does. Hospitals say that's because Medicare underpays, so they must make up the difference through private insurance.

  • If Medicare for All pays higher rates than Medicare currently does, the price tag of the program balloons. But if it leaves rates unchanged, the impact on hospitals would be drastic.

Between the lines: We're paying a ton for hospital care, and reducing these costs is part of the point of Medicare for All.

  • But hospitals' finances vary significantly, and some hospitals — especially struggling rural ones — would quickly be forced to close, experts told the NYT. Others would lay off workers or end less-profitable services like mental health care.

The bottom line: While the current system is unsustainable, evidenced by ballooning hospital costs, instituting Medicare rates across the board would cause massive disruption. How it'd play out is hard to predict and sure to become part of a fierce political debate.

Go deeper: How your health care would change under "Medicare for All"

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 a.m. ET: 859,796 — Total deaths: 42,332 — Total recoveries: 178,300.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 a.m. ET: 189,618 — Total deaths: 4,079 — Total recoveries: 7,109.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. Coronavirus in custody: Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons are set to enter a 14-day quarantine on April 1. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release 10 detained immigrants who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while in confinement.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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NYC races to build field hospitals as coronavirus death toll tops 1,000

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announces at the USTA Bille Jean King tennis center that the venue will be transformed into a 350-bed temporary hospital. Photo: Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference Tuesday of plans to triple hospital bed numbers to combat the novel coronavirus by transforming facilities into makeshift hospitals — including U.S. Open tennis courts.

The big picture: The city now accounts for a quarter of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. — more than 1,000 as of Wednesday morning. De Blasio said the city had "about 20,000 working hospital beds in our major hospitals" before the outbreak. "We now need to, in just the next weeks ... produce three times that number," he said.

Go deeperArrow28 mins ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 4,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 4,000 people in the U.S. — with over 1,000 deaths reported in New York City alone, per Johns Hopkins data. The number of deaths are still much lower than those reported in Italy, Spain and China.

Of note: Hours earlier, President Trump noted it's "going to be a very painful two weeks," with projections indicating the novel coronavirus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place. "They are going to be facing a war zone," he said of medical workers.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health