Canceled surgeries, COVID-19 patients could be ‘double whammy’ for hospitals

COVID-19 could be a double whammy for hospitals’ finances in that they’re putting off high-margin surgeries to treat expensive, complex coronavirus patients with no way to predict reimbursement.

“It probably will be significant in most cases,” Chip Kahn, CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, said of the novel coronavirus’ financial impact on hospitals. “In some situations, if we’re taking about two or three months of this … you could see many hospitals with their backs to the wall.”

Prominent hospitals like New York-Presbyterian and Brigham and Women’s in Boston as well as massive health systems like Northwell Health have said they are canceling or postponing elective procedures in the coming weeks. It may be necessary in many cases to prevent a more deadly COVID-19 outbreak, but could shrink an important revenue source for providers.

Treating COVID-19 patients is expensive and unpredictable in terms of the resources required, said Kahn, whose organization represents for-profit hospital companies. He questioned whether hospitals will see adequate reimbursement from treating those patients, as some may be homeless, unable to self-isolate or uninsured. He questioned whether hospitals’ Medicare payments would offset the cost of providing treatment.

The procedure cancellations align with the U.S. surgeon general’s recommendation that hospitals stop performing elective procedures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and preserve capacity in hospital intensive-care units as well as equipment and staff.

The American Hospital Association, FAH and other groups are asking the surgeon general to clarify his directive to account for the fact that some so-called elective procedures can’t be delayed, such as cancer surgeries.

By Tara Bannow | Modern Healthcare

Image Credit: Getty Images

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About Peter Coffaro 761 Articles
A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 20 years of progressive management success within the orthopedic industry. Recognized by MedReps.com as one of the top medical sales influencers in the industry; he has 10 years of combined sales management experience and has held positions as a Director, General Manager and Distributor. Peter has worked for some of the top orthopedic companies in the world - Zimmer, DePuy and Stryker. He is also the founder of OrthoFeed: a popular blog that covers orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson and has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing and professional education. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University.

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