Safety Net Hospitals in the COVID-19 Crisis
Brief Dec-15-2020 | | 2-min read
America’s hospitals have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused financial havoc in the industry. Safety net hospitals disproportionately care for those with low incomes and communities of color, the very groups hardest hit by the pandemic. Those hospitals typically treat a larger share of Medicaid and uninsured patients than other hospitals and thus often operate on thinner financial margins, making them especially vulnerable to the financial and other stresses caused by the pandemic.
This brief describes how the pandemic has financially affected five safety net hospitals as of the summer of 2020, including the costs of preparing for and operating during the pandemic, the pandemic’s impact on their revenues, the federal financial relief they have received, and implications for policy and practice. The five hospitals in our study are:
This study provides a snapshot of the considerable investments safety net hospitals have made to prepare for and operate during the pandemic. It also depicts the dramatic financial impact the pandemic has had on these hospitals as of September 2020. The crisis has “shined a light on health disparities,” as one executive put it, underscoring the importance of maintaining the financial health of safety net hospitals serving populations hardest hit by the pandemic.
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