Mar 27, 2020 - Health

Small hospitals worry about getting bailout money quickly

A rural hospital in Washington state. Photo: Nick Otto/Washington Post via Getty Images

Congress is about to provide $100 billion for hospitals and other health care providers to cope with the fallout from the coronavirus, but small hospitals have no idea how to access those funds — and many need the money immediately.

What they're saying: "A lot of rural hospitals out there need a cash infusion today," Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, told Axios. "How is it going to happen? What is the process? There are way more questions than answers."

Details: The stimulus bill says "the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall, on a rolling basis, review applications and make payments" to hospitals and other providers, out of a $100 billion fund.

  • HHS said in a statement that it "is working diligently to ensure needed aid and resources get to our health care providers on the frontlines as quickly as possible," but did not respond to questions about how that process would work.

Between the lines: Many hospitals are part of large, profitable systems that benefit from their area's demographics. The coronavirus will cause them financial distress, but they are not in danger of going under.

  • Rural and safety net hospitals, which treat disproportionate amounts of older and low-income patients, have a lot less wiggle room to call off elective procedures as they wait for a coronavirus surge.
  • Many small hospitals can't get new loans from banks and could miss payroll as soon as next week.

The bottom line: I asked Morgan how this process was supposed to work. "I don't know," he said, "and we are greatly concerned."

Go deeper

19 hours ago - Health

HHS requests data on race and ethnicity with coronavirus test results

A nurse writes a note as a team of doctors and nurses performs a procedure on a coronavirus patient in the Regional Medical Center on May 21 in San Jose, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Department of Health and Human Services moved on Thursday to require that an individual's race, ethnicity, age and sex be submitted to the agency with novel coronavirus test results.

Why it matters: Some cities and states have reported the virus is killing black people at disproportionately high rates. There are gaps in the national picture of how many people of color are affected, since the data has not been a requirement for states to collect or disclose.

Cities' budget woes worsen with increased social unrest

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Cities were already furloughing workers and considering cutting back essential services — including public safety — because of the dramatic drops in the local tax revenue that funds them. Now they're also dealing with turmoil in their streets.

Why it matters: "Unfortunately, the increasing levels of social unrest across the country reallocated efforts and scarce resources away from the former focus of getting state, regional and local economies back to some semblance of normalcy," per Tom Kozlik, head of municipal strategy and credit at HilltopSecurities.

Updated 18 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The Department of Health and Human Services moved on Thursday to require that an individual's race, ethnicity, age and sex be submitted to the agency with novel coronavirus test results.

Why it matters: Some cities and states have reported the virus is killing black people at disproportionately high rates. There are gaps in the national picture of how many people of color are affected, since the data has not been a requirement for states to collect or disclose.