COVID-19 – Several Blows To Healthcare

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COVID-19 – Several Blows To Healthcare

According to a survey conducted by the American Medical Group Association (AMGA), most medical groups and integrated health systems will need at least another year to recover from the revenue losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The survey showed that out of about 100 healthcare leaders, 41 percent of health system respondents and 35 percent of those from independent medical groups said revenues will not return to pre-coronavirus levels until at least the second quarter of 2021. Respondents came from 59 of the nation’s preeminent integrated health systems and 36 independent medical groups.

But for a significant portion of integrated health systems and independent medical groups, it is still unclear when they will recover from COVID-19. 

Nearly 23 percent of health system respondents and 28 percent of medical group respondents said they could not pinpoint when their revenues will return to pre-coronavirus levels.

COVID-19 was – and continues to be – an unprecedented public health emergency turned financial crisis. While the healthcare industry was undoubtedly the most impacted by the pandemic, the industry was also one of the hardest hit financially.

AMGA reported an overwhelming majority (90 percent) of medical groups and integrated health systems experienced revenue losses of 25 percent or more during the pandemic. 

Of these respondents, nearly 40 percent of the medical groups and 20 percent of the integrated health systems belonged to the “or more” category, with leaders reporting monthly revenue losses of over 50 percent. 

If the COVID-19 pandemic has not been hard enough, the second wave of disruptions for healthcare systems is the pricing transparency ruling that occurred on June 23rd. 

This will require hospitals to provide patients with the actual cost of services being performed. 

The American Hospital Association is planning to appeal this ruling by the Trump administration. 

Hospital groups are urging Health and Human Services (HHS) to delay requirements mandating the public disclosure of privately negotiated rates after a federal judge dismissed their case challenging the upcoming price transparency rule.

Implementation of the price transparency rule is expected to go into effect in January 2021. 

This would place excessive burdens on hospitals struggling to combat COVID-19. 

The American Hospital Association, Association of American Medical Colleges, Children’s Hospital Association, and Federation of American Hospitals responded in a recent letter to top government health officials.

“We anticipate the challenges associated with COVID-19 will continue for the foreseeable future, and perhaps until we develop and deploy a vaccine or reliable treatment,” the organizations wrote. “Resources of hospitals and health systems at this critical time must be devoted to patient care. While we disagree with the agency on the value of public disclosure of negotiated rate information (as opposed to estimated out-of-pocket costs), we hope that you will agree that advancing this policy is not essential at this moment.”

The organizations are looking to postpone implementation of the price transparency rule until the matter is settled by the courts.

HHS estimates in the rule’s proposal that compliance should only take about 12 hours for hospitals. 

However, hospitals have reported that a skinnier version of the rule that required hospitals to publish just their chargemasters in a machine-readable, accessible format took more than 100 hours. 

Some hospital leaders have suggested that compliance with the new rule could take months to complete.

The groups requested CMS to take a similar stance with the price transparency rule, adding that the agency has also already waived statutory deadlines that apply to its rulemaking due to the pandemic.

No response from CMS was available as of July 2.

However, lawmakers are looking to make the price transparency rule law.

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