Some hospitals did better financially during the pandemic

Posted at 11:11 AM, Apr 06, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. -- Hospitals in the Commonwealth report losses of about $1 billion in 2020 due to the pandemic, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association. New analysis from Kaiser Health News shows that wasn’t the case for every hospital across the country.

In fact, some health systems finished with record surpluses -- thanks in part to federal bailout money.

More than 8,800 healthcare providers in Virginia accepted stimulus money from the federal government last year, including dentists, chiropractors and even plastic surgeons in densely populated areas.

Throughout 2020, $178 billion in CARES Act funding was distributed as a bailout for health care systems and doctors struggling due to canceled elective procedures and extra pandemic expenses.

In Virginia, the top five recipients collected nearly 40% of all the stimulus funds sent to our state. Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates the following hospitals and their affiliated physicians received well over $515 million of the $1.8 billion distributed to our state: Inova Health Care Services, Sentara Hospitals, The Rector and Visitors of UVA, Virginia Commonwealth University Health System and Centra Health.

In the extensive nationwide analysis by Kaiser Health News, reporters looked at financial disclosures from individual healthcare networks and discovered many of the country’s wealthiest hospitals did better during the pandemic than they did in 2019.

"The big takeaway was that the way that the government distributed the money really favored large, well-off hospitals. At the same time, smaller rural and community hospitals were really struggling financially or even closing or having to lay off people," Jordan Rau, a Senior Correspondent at KHN, tells CBS 6.

"Some of the very big health institutions that had, you know, literally billions of dollars in the bank got the lion's share of money and ended up having really good years," said Rau.

Some big systems, like HCA, returned the relief funds it received. The healthcare giant said giving back $6 billion in taxpayer dollars was the socially responsible thing to do.

Bottom line, expect doctors and hospitals already operating with less to continue looking for ways to cut costs --which eventually could force some out of business in under-served areas or drive up the price of care in those areas.