Health systems find federal relief payments only cover one week of lost revenue: survey

Two-thirds of integrated health systems said in a recent survey that the initial payments from a relief fund replace less than a week of revenue lost by COVID-19.

The survey, published Tuesday by the AMGA, underscores the need for more direct funding to providers to help them weather the financial crisis created by COVID-19, the group said in a release.

AMGA said that it could take as much as $318 billion to replace only half the revenue hospitals and physicians are expected to lose over four months.

The survey of 71 integrated health systems found that two-thirds believe the initial $30 billion will only cover less than one week of revenue loss, another 20% said it will last for less than two weeks and 9% less than one month.

Another 40% of respondents have seen their revenue decline by more than half, and nearly all are reporting declines of 25% or more.

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The survey also found 55% say they have less than six months of cash on hand.

Providers are facing a major financial crisis as they have been forced to cancel elective procedures and experience low patient volume.

“Health systems are using every possible tactic to remain viable: furloughing employees, cutting salaries, exhausting reserves built up over decades, and accessing commercial loans,” said AMGA President and CEO Jerry Penso, M.D., in a statement.

Congress provided $100 billion for hospitals in an economic stimulus package passed a few weeks ago.

The Trump administration recently doled out $30 billion to providers based on historical Medicare spending, and a second round of funding is expected to be more targeted at COVID-19 hot spots and to providers that don’t have a lot of Medicare business.

More funding is coming to providers as Congress reached a deal on a new funding package that includes $75 billion for hospitals. The package could be passed by Congress as soon as this Thursday.

But AMGA has called for an additional $318 billion to cover potential losses.

It remains unclear when hospitals and health systems could resume elective procedures. Some states such as Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska have said that providers in those localities could resume elective procedures in a few weeks.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services put out guidance for healthcare facilities to restart elective procedures, saying any resumption will depend on approval from state or local authorities.