Department Researchers Highlight How the COVID-19 Pandemic Hit Hospitals' Bottom Lines

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced many challenges to American hospitals, including the economic difficulties tied to reductions in elective and nonemergent care and increased investments in resources and infrastructure. In a new ACP Hospitalist article, Drs. Amelia Bond, Dhruv Khullar and William Schpero, all assistant professors of population health sciences at Weill Cornell Medicine, provided insight into how this situation has evolved since last spring. In May 2020, the researchers wrote a JAMA Network viewpoint highlighting questions about the ability of hospitals to remain financially solvent and predicted that rural smaller hospitals, as well as those that primarily treat Medicaid beneficiaries, were likely to be most at risk financially. While there is not yet empirical evidence of that, many hospitals saw a rebound in healthcare service volume over the summer. However, this was not uniform in distribution and many hospitals may be forced to merge with others or close. While policies and relief funds have been helped to reduce some of this financial damage, the researchers found that these have not been efficiently targeted to the hospitals most in need. This may serve as an opportunity to unite state and federal policymakers, as well as private payers, in rethinking hospital reimbursement in the 21st century.

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