No Hazard Pay For Covid-19 Front-line Medical Professionals, While Hospitals Get Rescue Money and Incentive Pay

I have written several articles on the coronavirus and on masks and healthcare issues. A series of links have been provided at the bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address a different aspect of the virus or on the healthcare issues in general.

The trillions in federal relief money has not included raises for front-line workers. Many also don’t get paid sick leave because of a legislative exclusion.

Lawmakers have not approved emergency pay for doctors, nurses and other medical personnel on the front lines of the covid-19 pandemic, nearly a month after President Trump and top Democrats expressed support for such a move. The omission of aid for health workers is striking after Congress approved trillions of dollars in assistance for vast sectors of the economy. It is also surprising because it appears to be one of the less controversial ideas for responding to the pandemic, as members of Congress in both parties lavish praise on doctors, nurses and first responders. “If anybody’s entitled to it, they are,” Trump told Fox News on March 30 when asked about proposals to give “hazard pay” to front-line medical personnel. “These are really brave people. Actually, they are warriors, in a sense.” But a proposal to offer such aid has not been seriously considered during negotiations over any of the four bills approved by Congress to respond to the novel coronavirus, according to a half-dozen congressional aides. White House spokesman Judd Deere said negotiations with Congress continue. A White House statement noted that billions of dollars have been approved for hospitals, which could help pay worker bonuses, among a variety of other expenses. There’s no evidence yet hospitals are doing that. The White House did not respond when asked whether Trump has taken any action to pursue hazard pay specifically for medical workers. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has released a proposal for a “Heroes Fund” that would give up to $25,000 per person for a broad category of front-line workers including doctors and nurses — as well as other essential personnel such as grocery workers and delivery drivers. The White House declined to comment on Schumer’s proposal.

“President Trump is already working with Congress to ensure these brave men and women are properly compensated for their incredible work,” Deere said in a statement. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has also said he hopes to see hazard pay included the next aid package. Congressional aides caution it could be weeks before such a measure is approved. More than 45 nurses in the United States have died of covid-19, the disease the novel coronavirus causes, while at least a half-dozen doctors have died in states including Arizona, Michigan, Florida and New York. Concerns about compensation for medical workers go beyond additional hazard pay. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act that Congress passed in March specifically excludes health-care companies and firms with more than 500 employees from having to give two weeks of paid sick leave. Up to 13 million health workers and other emergency responders, including some nurses and hospital cleaning employees, won’t get two weeks of emergency sick pay because of the way Congress wrote the law, according to Labor Department estimates. Front-line workers say extra hazard wages or sick pay could make a big difference for them. Delma Garza, a nurse at a long-term-care facility in Texas, said she was instructed to stay home for the first two weeks of April because she had been exposed to another worker who tested positive for the coronavirus at the facility. But Garza said she was not paid during her quarantine. (Washington Post, “White House, Congress have not given any hazard pay to the medical workers they call heroes,” By Jeff Stein and Heather Long).

The nation’s largest for-profit hospital chains have received a total of about $2.2 billion in federal grants so far, which is intended to provide financial relief to hospitals and providers amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and the havoc it has wreaked on their operations.

The money comes from $175 billion earmarked for providers, allocated by Congress through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. It was meant to serve as a lifeline for providers as they’ve been forced to all but stop a significant portion of their business, specifically those service lines that tend to be more profitable like orthopaedic procedures.

HCA, the largest among the for-profits, received the most in CARES funding, about $1 billion, which it disclosed to Healthcare Dive on Friday. The funding is about 2% of HCA’s total 2019 revenue. Tenet, CHS and UHS followed behind with grant allocations of $517 million, $420 million and $239 million, respectively. The money is supposed to be spent on healthcare-related expenses and lost revenue related to COVID-19.

So, while hospitals are getting relief money, nurses and other healthcare professionals are getting no supplemental pay, while they routinely risk their lives, with little PPE gear. They are being forced to work over-time in many hospitals, reuse single use PPE gear, and work in unsafe working conditions. Many hospitals are forcing IMC nurses to take 5 patient Assignments with no CNA support, and ICU nurses are routinely taking 3 patient Assignments. Most of these assignments include multiple Covid-19 positive patients. Many ICU patient treatment plans involve CRRT (continuous renal replacement therapies) which requires the nurse to sit in close proximity to the Positive covid patient for up to 12 hours. So teachers give me a break, I am crying for you. How do I know these things, you may ask. I am an ICU nurse. All we are asking for is sufficient staffing, our hazard pay and some appreciation for a job well done.

A second stimulus package has been signed this fall and still no hazard pay for first line responders and medical care professionals. Yet hospitals are still getting incentive pay for covid patients. The working theory is that covid patients cost more to care for, so that the hospitals need supplementary help to maintain their financial standing. In order to prevent abuse each hospital should have been given support based on their capacity, not on how many covid patients they have. This way financial support would have been fair across the board. It is amazing that their have been no deaths related to the flu, only covid. In the addendum section I have included a couple of articles the help to prove that incentive money has been given to hospitals for covid patients. (Updated 1/10/2021)

Resources

breitbart.com, “Fact Check: Trump Claims Doctors ‘Get More Money’ for Coronavirus Deaths,’ By Edwin Mora; lifesitenews.com, “Hospitals have incentive to inflate COVID-deaths, CDC chief admits; “I think you’re correct … the hospital would prefer the [classification] for HIV because there’s greater reimbursement.’,” By Calvin Freiburger;

Addendum

Fact Check: Trump Claims Doctors ‘Get More Money’ for Coronavirus Deaths

CLAIM: “You know, our doctors get more money if somebody dies from COVID. You know that, right? I mean, our doctors are very smart people. So, what they do is they say, ‘I’m sorry, but, you know, everybody dies of COVID,’” President Donald Trump said at a campaign rally in Michigan on Friday, referring to the Chinese coronavirus.

Trump indicated that doctors and hospitals get paid more money if they say people died from the Chinese virus rather than other co-occurring significant health conditions (comorbidities) that may have contributed to the person’s demise, such as cancer or a heart attack.

“With us, when in doubt, choose COVID,” the president said, later adding, “This could only happen to us where cases are now surging.”

VERDICT: MOSTLY TRUE. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield has suggested that doctors and hospitals have a financial incentive to inflate deaths attributed to the coronavirus.

During a hearing by the House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis on July 31, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) asked Redfield, the director of the nation’s leading public health agency, to comment on the “perverse incentive” for medical personnel to claim someone died of the Chinese instead of other diseases.

“I think you’re correct in that we’ve seen this in other disease processes too, the CDC chief responded, noting that during the HIV epidemic, hospitals preferred the HIV classification over a heart attack “because there’s greater reimbursement.”

Redfield did not indicate all doctors and hospitals are overcounting virus deaths, but rather that there is a monetary incentive for them to do so. He suggested there is no way to know for sure to what extent doctors and hospitals are taking advantage of the incentive to classify the cause of death as the Chinese virus.

“When it comes to death reporting, though, ultimately, it’s how the physician defines it in the death certificate and … we review all of those death certificates,” Redfield said in responding to the “perverse incentive” question from the GOP lawmaker.

“So I think, it’s probably less operable in the cause of death, although I won’t say there are not some cases,” he added. “I do think though [that] when it comes to hospital reimbursement issues or individuals that get discharged, there could be some play in that for sure.”

Luetkemeyer asserted that Adm. Brett Giroir from the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Department also conceded that there is an economic incentive for hospitals to inflate their coronavirus fatalities.

Even fact-checkers at USA Today determined in April that hospitals get paid more money if they list patients as having the Chinese virus.

As part of the coronavirus relief legislation, hospitals received higher payments from Medicare if they were treating someone with the virus, the newspaper found.

Nevertheless, USA Today now reports, “[P]ublic health experts and independent fact checkers have noted that the higher reimbursement alone is not evidence of widespread fraud.”

Trump’s comments have drawn the ire of Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden, his party’s mainstream media allies, and some medical community members.

Critics accuse Trump of peddling what they describe as a baseless conspiracy theory, stressing that Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before Congress back in May that coronavirus disease fatalities are “almost certainly higher” than reported.

Fauci, a prominent member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), attributed the potential tally discrepancy to officials missing many victims who die at home without a diagnosis.

There is a patchwork of guidelines for reporting deaths across America, with some jurisdictions and databases reporting probable fatalities while others do not.

As of Sunday morning, the U.S. had reported over 9 million virus cases and over 230,000 deaths, a Johns Hopkins University tally showed.

Hospitals have incentive to inflate COVID-deaths, CDC chief admits

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — There is a financial incentive for hospitals to inflate their counts of deaths due to COVID-19, U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) director Dr. Robert Redfield acknowledged Friday in congressional testimony.

“I think you’re correct in that we’ve seen this in other disease processes, too, really in the HIV epidemic, somebody may have a heart attack, but also have HIV — the hospital would prefer the [classification] for HIV because there’s greater reimbursement,” Redfield told the House Oversight and Reform Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

Redfield maintained that “probably it is less operable in the cause of death” and assured lawmakers that “we review all of those death certificates” but admitted, “When it comes to hospital reimbursement issues or individuals that get discharged, there could be some play in that for sure.”

The federal CARES Act, the $2-trillion emergency relief package Congress passed in March, increases per-patient Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals by 20% for patients listed with a “principal or secondary diagnosis of COVID-19.”

As of August 4, the United States is estimated to have seen more than 4.9 million cases of COVID-19, with more than 160,000 deaths and 2.4 million recoveries. For months, however, debate has raged over the accuracy of those numbers.

In April, the New York City Health Department invited such concerns by adding more than 3,700 to its official death count, single-handedly raising the national COVID-19 death toll by 17 percent, despite that number coming from the addition of people “presumed” to have had the virus but not having been tested for it.

In the months that followed, similar incidents sparked further distrust of the official numbers, such as Colorado lowering its death count after admitting that it had counted people who had tested positive but died from other factors; Texas removing more than 3,000 cases from its positivity count upon learning that the San Antonio Health Department was classifying “probable cases” as “confirmed” positives despite never having tested them; and revelations of “countless” Florida testing labs reporting implausible positivity rates of 100 percent, as well as various other labs reporting other suspiciously high rates, which led health officials to admit that some private labs had not reported any of their negative findings to the state. 

Last month, concerns over a potentially misleading lag in the CDC’s publishing of coronavirus statistics led the Trump administration to begin requiring hospitals to send COVID-19 data directly to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) instead of the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network.  

In May, the Washington Post quoted Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, privately admitting that “there is nothing from the CDC that I can trust.” Birx reportedly suspected that deaths might be inflated by as much as 25 percent, given the problem of hospitals and health agencies classifying “COVID-19 deaths” as anyone who died after testing positive for the virus, even if the virus was not the actual cause of death.

Whatever the truth, public perception of the danger posed by the coronavirus has carried intense real-world consequences. Instead of targeted policies to secure vulnerable populations, most states responded to the outbreak by imposing strict limits on “non-essential” activity, including delays of non-urgent medical procedures. As a result, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost, with more than 33 million Americans filing for unemployment and studies predicting that tens of thousands of small businesses will never reopen.

The mental and emotional toll of prolonged social isolation has also been a significant concern, with Redfield warning last month that “we’re seeing, sadly, far greater suicides” and “deaths from drug overdose that are above excess” than COVID-19 deaths.

covid-19 and Healthcare Postings
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/06/08/mask-or-no-mask-for-covid-19/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/10/14/why-is-the-coronavirus-so-confusing/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/10/14/the-corona-virus-exposed/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/10/09/masks-how-they-work/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/10/08/the-covid-19-vaccine-safe-or-unsafe/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/10/01/is-dr-fauci-a-devil-or-an-angel/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/09/30/fauci-and-hiv-and-now-coronavirus-sounds-like-dejavu/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/09/16/covid-19-manufactured-or-altered-that-is-the-question/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/09/10/president-trump-acted-appropriately-and-in-a-timely-manner-with-regards-to-covid-19-part-1-of-2/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/09/10/president-trump-acted-appropriately-and-in-a-timely-manner-with-regards-to-covid-19-part-2-of-2/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/07/18/covid-19-just-the-facts-please/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/07/13/releasing-prisoners-early-for-covid-considerations-sets-a-bad-precedent/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/06/16/hydroxychloroquine-is-it-the-medication-of-the-devil/
https://common-sense-in-america.com/2020/06/10/how-covid-19-is-spread-who-needs-who/