The Trump administration announced a plan on Wednesday to start paying hospitals and doctors who care for uninsured patients with COVID-19. Under the approach detailed by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, hospitals and doctors would submit their bills directly to the government and they would get paid at Medicare rates. Uninsured people would not be liable for costs, and health care providers would not have to ask any questions about a patient’s immigration status. COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured could cost from $14 billion to $48 billion, according to a recent estimate from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.
Azar said the administration is not providing an estimate on what its plan will cost, but he is confident it will fit within the $100 billion allocated by Congress. Lawmakers are finalizing another coronavirus relief bill, expected to add $75 billion more for the health care system.
About 28 million people were uninsured before the pandemic hit, and that number is expected to rise sharply. Consultants at Health Management Associates estimate that 12 million to 35 million people could lose workplace coverage in the economic shutdown aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus.
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