HCA to return $6B in CARES Act funding, including more than $4B in Medicare accelerated payments

HCA Healthcare is returning $6 billion in COVID-19 relief funds it received as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act earlier this year.

“We greatly appreciate the CARES Act funding and the policymakers who fought hard to ensure hospitals would have the essential resources during the pandemic,” said Sam Hazen, CEO of HCA Healthcare, in a statement. 

In a release, officials at the Nashville, Tennessee-based health system giant said they took a conservative approach to address operational and financial challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Using available cash and future cash flows from operations, officials said they plan to repay the $1.6 billion in Provider Relief Funds HCA received and $4.4 billion in Medicare accelerated payments.

Officials said the company will work with the appropriate government agencies to arrange the repayment of these funds.  

“As the initial immediacy of the emergency has passed, and with more information, and more experience managing our operations during the pandemic, we believe returning these taxpayer dollars is appropriate and the socially responsible thing to do,” Hazen said.

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The publicly traded health system giant said Thursday in advance of a third-quarter earnings preview that it anticipates its revenue in the third quarter will reach $13.3 billion compared to $12.7 billion in the same quarter a year earlier.

HCA also said it expects its income before taxes to be about $950 million in the third quarter, down from $979 million in the third quarter a year earlier.

The results include a reversal of $822 million in government stimulus income recorded in the second quarter of 2020 related to the distribution of funds received from the Provider Relief Fund established by the CARES Act. It also includes losses on retirement of debt of $211 million, officials said in a release. 

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the third quarter are expected to be $2.03 billion compared to $2.29 billion the same quarter in 2019. 

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In the third quarter, HCA also said: 

  • Same facility admissions are expected to decline 4%, and same facility equivalent admissions are expected to decline 9% when compared to the third quarter of 2019.
  • Same facility emergency room visits are expected to decline 20% compared to the same quarter in 2019.
  • Same facility revenue per equivalent admission is expected to increase about 15% in the third quarter "due to increases in acuity for patients treated and favorable payer mix during the quarter."

HCA plans to report its third-quarter earnings Oct. 26, but it releasing a preview of its earnings Friday morning.