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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Private equity companies have borrowed at least $1.5 billion from the federal government through programs intended to provide emergency funding to struggling health care companies during the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg reports.

Between the lines: Some of the hospitals, clinics and treatment centers benefiting from the Medicare loans — which could plausibly end up being forgiven — are owned by the richest investment firms.

Details: Some of the firms that have received such loans are swimming in cash.

  • KKR, which has received $60 million via subsidiaries of KKR-owned companies, has more than $58 billion of cash to invest.
  • Apollo Global Management started the year with about $46 billion, but its health care facilities received at least $500 million in loans.
  • Steward Health Care System, owned by Cerberus Capital Management, received at least $400 million. Cerberus was attempting last month to grow one of its investing funds to $750 million. Steward physicians announced yesterday that they are buying the company from Cerberus.

The big picture: The HHS programs making the loans were expanded by Congress earlier this year to help health care companies financially slammed by the pandemic, as elective care skid to a halt.

  • CMS administrator Seema Verma told Bloomberg that the agency's goal was to get the money out quickly. "We don't look into ownership, what we look into is are they Medicare-enrolled providers," Verma said.
  • KKR has been in the political spotlight for months for its role in the surprise billing debate.

Go deeper: Private equity's slow creep into doctors' offices

Go deeper

Sep 11, 2020 - Health

We're numb to the coronavirus

Data: Newswhip; Chart: Axios Visuals

We're over COVID even if it isn't over us.

Why it matters: Six months into the pandemic, online engagement around coronavirus stories has dropped off markedly and continues to reach new lows even as the pandemic continues, according to data from NewsWhip provided exclusively to Axios.

CDC official: Pandemic "explosion" of antibiotic resistance not seen

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Despite concerns over antimicrobial resistance flourishing during the pandemic as doctors use all their tools to help patients fight COVID-19, early indications are that their efforts may not be causing a large increase, a CDC official tells Axios.

Why it matters: AMR is a growing problem, as the misuse or overuse of antibiotics creates resistant pathogens that cause more than 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths annually in the U.S.