The Trump Administration announced on Wednesday a plan to pay hospitals and doctors who treats uninsured COVID-19 patients.
According to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, hospitals and doctors will be required to submit the bills directly to the government and they will be paid at Medicare rates.
The uninsured patients will not be liable for any costs, and they will not be asked for the patient’s immigration status – one of the issues pointed out as a barrier to care for many foreign-born citizens.
In an interview, Azar said, “This says if you don’t have insurance, go get taken care of — we have you covered.”
The budget will come from the $100 billion pot the Congress approved form relief efforts for the health care system, as they are already trying to cope up with the high cost of COVID-19 care while putting elective surgeries and procedures on hold causes them to face a cash crunch.
For the insured COVID-19 patients, hospitals and doctors have to agree to refrain from “surprise bills” for out-of-network services before they can accept money from the relief fund.
Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured may cost from $14 billion to $48 billion.
The administration is not announcing the estimate of how much the plan could cost, although Azar remains confident that it will be within the $100 billion budget allocated by Congress.
Lawmakers are looking into adding $75 billion more for the health care system as they finalize another coronavirus relief bill.
However, Democrats and a number of health industry groups believes that the approved relief money should go directly to the health care facilities, and the administration should instead cover the uninsured by utilizing and expanding programs such as Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.
The said plain for the uninsured is part of an announcement made by the government, which entails a second round of economic relief payments to hospitals, doctors and other health care service providers.