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Like me, you’ve likely been seeing a number of articles about the CARES Act in the media in recent weeks. Many of those articles have not included a full portrayal of the significant challenges health care providers have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and will likely continue to experience in the coming months. This note is intended to provide you with information you can leverage when addressing this topic with your stakeholders.
The pandemic created a triple-threat for HCA Healthcare and other organizations:
HCA Healthcare hospitals saw the peak of the pandemic in the middle of April when inpatient admissions dropped by 30%, inpatient surgical cases dropped close to 50%, and outpatient surgical procedures in our hospitals dropped by 70%, while ASD surgical cases dropped by roughly 90%. We saw similar drops in our emergency rooms where hospital-based ER visits were down more than 50% and our FSER volume was all but eliminated. The ER volume remains depressed today.
The CARES Act recognizes the vital role hospitals play in each community, and the funding provided helps make up for a portion of the lost revenue and extra expense caused by the pandemic through a provider relief fund. To date, HCA Healthcare has received approximately $1 billion in grants from this fund. The CARES Act also expands the existing Medicare accelerated payment program. We have received $4.3 billion in accelerated payments for services we will provide to Medicare patients. These amounts will be repaid as we care for Medicare patients and is money our hospitals would receive normally, just expedited due to the health crisis. For perspective, HCA Healthcare’s 180 U.S. hospitals provide about 5 percent of all inpatient hospital services in the country, yet we have received about 2 percent of the CARES Act funds distributed to healthcare providers.
The CARES Act funds that have been distributed have been vital for health systems during this time as they navigate the environment this pandemic has presented, and for HCA Healthcare to fulfill our commitments to our patients, employees and communities. As we continue to assess the need for CARES Act funding inside of HCA Healthcare, there may be a point where we no longer accept CARES Act funds as our business trends return. In the meantime, know that we remain committed to helping you and your teams continue to serve your patients and communities. We thank everyone across HCA Healthcare for what you have done in this truly unprecedented time.
Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President
TriStar Skyline Medical Center
North Carolina Division
Director of Surgical Services
Capital Regional Medical Center
North Florida Division