Do hospitals make money from COVID-19 patients? MMH says ‘no’

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MIDLAND, Texas (Nexstar)- Throughout the pandemic, people on both sides of the fence have taken to social media questioning hospitals about the money they are making from continued coronavirus hospitalizations. 

Do hospitals make money from these patient admissions? 

“I can assure you, we’re not,” said Midland Memorial Hospital’s Chief Operations Officer Stephen Bowerman in a news conference held Tuesday. “We’re not making any money.”

The hospital says it has had to hire countless traveling healthcare workers to help meet the demand for more hospital beds amid the most recent surge. Those workers come at a great cost to the hospital. Now, the City Council and the County Commissioners have stepped up to help with some of those costs. 

“With the last couple of months and the census spike we’ve seen, we would have had significant losses if it wasn’t for the City and the County stepping up to provide over 4.75 million dollars in grant money,” Bowerman said. 

The hospital says the grant money will help cover the cost of travel nurses, as well as provide incentives for the MMH staff who have been working tirelessly since cases began to rise again this summer. 

The hospital says the loss of elective surgical procedures is hitting the hospital hard.

“We have stopped doing any overnight elective cases in our hospital. The surgical cases and procedural cases that we normally run are the significant money makers for the hospital,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Larry Wilson. 

Cutting out those surgeries has been a sacrifice to the overall hospital revenue, according to Wilson. 

Additionally, people on Facebook have been questioning the hospital about its reluctance to use alternative therapies to treat COVID-19 patients. Some have accused the hospital of avoiding using medications such as Ivermectin to keep patients in the hospital longer to pad the bill. The hospital says that simply isn’t true. 

“There’s been some communication that we are purposefully not using some of the alternative therapies because it prolongs hospitalization and that makes money for the hospital. We make money based on diagnosis. So, a COVID admission comes in and there’s a bundle payment for that. That is a set number. So, the longer a patient is in the hospital, the more we lose. Unfortunately, COVID patients tend to have very long hospitalizations because of their requirement for oxygen. There’s no money to be made on a prolonged hospitalization,” Wilson said. 

Wilson says on four percent of American Medical Association providers support using alternative therapies to treat coronavirus patients. 

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