In the second half of an interview this month on Del Bigtree’s “The Highwire” — “COVID-19: Following the Money” — policy analyst A.J. DePriest reported on the impact of billions in COVID stimulus funds, which, according to some doctors and lawyers, turned hospitals and medical staff into “bounty hunters,” and COVID patients into “virtual prisoners.”
As reported last week by The Defender, federal monies from the 2020 and 2021 COVID stimulus bills dramatically reshaped K-12 educational priorities, turning American school officials into lackeys for federal agencies more intent on masking and vaccinating every last child than on supporting meaningful education.
So, too, with the stimulus-induced reshaping of hospital priorities.
In the second half of a January interview on Del Bigtree’s “The Highwire” — “COVID-19: Following the Money” — policy analyst A.J. DePriest reported on the untoward consequences set into motion as a result of COVID funds provided to hospitals.
Managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the federal government allocated a total of $186.5 billion to the Provider Relief Fund (PRF), with two-thirds ($121.3 billion) disbursed as of January 2022.
The first tranche of $50 billion for hospitals and other Medicare providers — “for healthcare-related expenses or lost revenues … attributable to COVID-19” — began flying out the door in April 2020.
Almost immediately, alert doctors and astute journalists warned the Medicare add-on payments built into the relief package created perverse incentives unfriendly to patients’ interests.
As summarized by Dr. Scott Jensen — former Minnesota state senator and current gubernatorial candidate — “anytime healthcare intersects with dollars it gets awkward.”
Nearly two years down the road, the “awkwardness” is increasingly difficult to hide.
In the view of DePriest and many others, HHS’s stimulus slush fund has been every bit as dangerous for hospital patients as the U.S. Department of Education’s handouts have been for the nation’s schoolchildren.