Overcount accounted for

Thursday, August 6, 2020
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

coronavirus rubber gloveA member of Congress believes the COVID-19 numbers are skewed, and based off the available evidence, he isn't wrong.

For starters, Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) told the "Washington Watch" radio program on Tuesday, "In the CARES Act, which we passed in March, there is a plus up of 20 percent for hospitals to be able to charge more if they give services to somebody who has COVID."

The purpose is to reimburse hospitals for the extra equipment, procedures, and precautions they have to take when they come into contact with a coronavirus patient.

Luetkemeyer

"It's not there for them to be able to say that they can charge somebody for having attended to them for COVID needs, which they didn't, obviously, if it was an auto accident or heart attack," he pointed out.

Speaking of accidents, "Washington Watch" host Tony Perkins reportedly lost a relative in an accident, and the virus is down as the official cause of death.

"This relative had been tested for the coronavirus about six to eight weeks prior to his death. [He] had an accident, but on the death certificate it listed COVID-19 as the reason for death," said Perkins.

Perkins

While alarming, stories like this are not uncommon.

Speaking to federal legislators last week in Washington, DC, virologist Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that some hospitals have a financial incentive to overcount coronavirus deaths.

"In the HIV epidemic, somebody may have a heart attack but also have HIV, and the hospital would prefer the classification for HIV because there's greater reimbursement," Dr. Redfield noted. "So I do think there's some reality to that."

Dr. Redfield also explained that a patient's cause of death involves how the physician defines it in the death certificate.

Redfield

Meanwhile, USA Today did a fact check in April on claims that hospitals get paid more if Medicare patients are listed as having COVID-19 and are placed on a ventilator, and on April 24th the publication declared that to indeed be the case:

We rate the claim that hospitals get paid more if patients are listed as COVID-19 and on ventilators as TRUE.

Hospitals and doctors do get paid more for Medicare patients diagnosed with COVID-19 or if it's considered presumed they have COVID-19 absent a laboratory-confirmed test, and three times more if the patients are placed on a ventilator to cover the cost of care and loss of business resulting from a shift in focus to treat COVID-19 cases.

The CDC's website lists over 3,700 coronavirus deaths characterized as "intentional and unintentional injury, poisoning and other adverse events." In Texas, more than 3,000 people were recently removed from the overall coronavirus count because they were never actually tested but considered "probable" cases.

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