Many uninsured coronavirus patients reportedly don't qualify for Trump's coverage program because of other illnesses

Coronavirus hospital treatment.
(Image credit: MARK FELIX/AFP /AFP via Getty Image)

President Trump's stopgap program that covers many medical costs for uninsured coronavirus patients has found favor with some hospital executives, The New York Times reports. Dr. Shareef Elnahal, the chief executive of Newark, New Jersey's, University Hospital called it a "really progressive policy we were really surprised by." The hospital received $8.2 million for treating nearly 800 uninsured COVID-19 patients who accounted for about a third of its coronavirus patients, but the process hasn't been so smooth everywhere.

While New Jersey providers have received $72 million in coronavirus treatment claims, the Times reports, those in New York have received about half that, and the variance continues throughout the U.S. There just doesn't seem to be an explanation as to why. "It's just not clear to me what's going on," said Jennifer Tolbert, director of state health reform at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Molly Smith, vice president for coverage and state issues forum at the American Hospital Association, said claims have been low in part because of "serious backlogs and delays," but she also noted that many patients likely aren't getting into the system at all because they don't qualify.

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The association says some hospitals have reported not submitting anywhere between 40 and 70 percent of claims for uninsured patients. That's because many hospitalized coronavirus patients suffer from other serious medical conditions that are registered as their primary diagnosis instead of the virus. Harris Health, a public system in Houston, Texas, for example, did not bill the federal fund for 80 percent of the roughly 1,300 uninsured COVID-19 patients it had treated through mid-July because many of them had other medical problems, the Times reports. Read more at The New York Times.

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