August 5, 2020

Report: Areas less impacted by coronavirus getting more funds from Trump administration

A report from Kaiser Health News reveals that funds designated for coronavirus relief aren't going to virus hotspots. Why?

While American stay at home to help fight the spread of coronavirus, President Trump has been busy. A USA TODAY report explains that he’s removing oversight, including over the recent $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

Why would he do that? 

According to USA TODAY:

“On Tuesday, the president removed Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine. He had just been designated to oversee the newly created Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, a watchdog panel authorized by Congress to conduct oversight of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill. The same day, Trump said he had seven IGs in his sights — prompting Sen. Chris Murphy to announce he would draft a bill to “give all Inspectors General protected 7-year terms.”

We have to wonder what Trump is up to with American taxpayers’ money right now. Stripping oversight is alarming, and the report even suggests Trump is becoming a dictator as we stay at home.

“In the course of three days, Trump fired an IG for telling the truth, attacked another for exposing the totality of a health care pandemic, and removed another in a brazen effort to avoid being held accountable for how trillions of taxpayer dollars will be allocated. The sum of these actions is nothing short of blatant corruption in plain sight. Free from the limitations of accountability, there is nothing stopping the president from turning the so-called “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” (CARES Act) into a $2 trillion personal slush fund.”

Now a report from Kaiser Health News gives some insight into what Trump may have in mind with the distribution of our money amid a pandemic.

The report is entitled, “Furor Erupts: Billions Going To Hospitals Based On Medicare Billings, Not COVID-19.”

First off, why would the money not be going to the areas of the country hit the hardest by the pandemic, like the hotspots of Miami and New York City? Instead, relatively untouched places in Minnesota, Nebraska, and Montana are getting a disproportionate amount of funding.

“States such as Minnesota, Nebraska, and Montana, which the pandemic has touched relatively lightly, are getting more than $300,000 per reported COVID-19 case in the $30 billion, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis.

On the other hand, New York, the worst-hit state, would receive only $12,000 per case. Florida is getting $132,000 per case. KHN relied on an analysis by staff on the House Ways and Means Committee along with COVID-19 cases tabulated by The New York Times.”

Rather than distributing the money where it could help save lives in hotspots, the money is going to places based on revenues from Medicare? Below is what that looks like on the map from Hannah Norman/Kaiser Health News.

The President and CEO of Florida’s Jackson Health System, Carlos Migoya is fighting back. He tested positive for COVID-19 in late March without symptoms as he worked from home. Just days ago, Migoya reported that hospitals in the Miami area were not yet overwhelmed. Days later, the “huge surge” he feared might happen came true.

“Migoya and executives at other beleaguered systems are blasting the government’s decision to take a one-size-fits-all approach to distributing the first $30 billion in emergency grants. HHS confirmed Friday it would give hospitals and doctors money according to their historical share of revenue from the Medicare program for seniors — not according to their coronavirus burden.”

Thus, struggling hospitals like those in South Florida and New York may not receive the money they need in time. Instead, HHS is administering the grants based on past Medicare business. An HHS spokesperson reportedly explained:

“Issuing the funds based on Medicare revenue “allowed us to make initial payments to providers as quickly as possible,” an HHS spokesperson said Friday. Some of the money was expected to go out as soon as Friday in electronic deposits.”

However, members of Congress, where COVID-19 is running rampant, are objecting.

“HHS “has failed to consider congressional intent” in distributing the $30 billion by not accounting for “the number of COVID-19 cases hospitals are treating,” New Jersey Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker and Rep. Bill Pascrell said in a Friday letter to Azar.”

Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr., a Democrat from New Jersey, called the way HHS allocated funding an “absurd formula.”

Is there some sinister motive behind the “absurd formula?” We can only speculate, just as we must wonder why the feds are reportedly seizing masks and coronavirus supplies without offering an explanation.

From the Los Angeles Times:

“Although President Trump has directed states and hospitals to secure what supplies they can, the federal government is quietly seizing orders, leaving medical providers across the country in the dark about where the material is going and how they can get what they need to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.”

Thus, if you follow the money, some interesting places are receiving more than adequate funding, while places like Jersey and New York are struggling. This observation hasn’t gone unnoticed. Below, one journalist from The Nation notes, it appears political motives are involved once again.

If politics is the motive for distributing money to the nation’s hospitals, it wouldn’t be shocking, given how Trump has recently dealt with states like Michigan. There, Governor Whitmer told a radio show that “the federal government has been told not to send medical supplies to Michigan.”


Featured image: Screenshot via Hannah Norman/Kaiser Health News

 

 

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