Kaiser Health News: Rural Hospitals Teeter on Financial Cliff as COVID Medicare Loans Come Due

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EXCERPT: “David Usher is sitting on $1.7 million he’s scared to spend. The money lent from the federal government is meant to help hospitals and other health care providers weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet some hospital administrators have called it a payday loan program that is now, brutally, due for repayment at a time when they still need help. Coronavirus cases have ‘picked up recently and it’s quite worrying,’ said Usher, chief financial officer at the 12-bed Edwards County Medical Center in rural western Kansas. Usher said he would like to use the money to build a negative-pressure room, a common strategy to keep contagious patients apart from those in the rest of the hospital. But he’s not sure it’s safe to spend that cash. Officially, the total repayment of the loan is due this month. Otherwise, according to the loan’s terms, federal regulators will stop reimbursing the hospitals for Medicare patients’ treatments until the loan is repaid in full. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has not yet begun trying to recoup its money, with the coronavirus still affecting communities nationwide, but hospital leaders fear it may come calling for repayment any day now.” FULL STORY: https://fluence-media.co/3i0X16E