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FACT CHECK: Money-To-Hospitals Plan To Treat Coronavirus Patients Could Face Problems

Medical staff move bodies from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., Thursday to a refrigerated truck.
Angela Weiss
AFP via Getty Images
Medical staff move bodies from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., Thursday to a refrigerated truck.

Vice President Mike Pence said the White House may ask hospitals to use some of their federal aid to cover the medical costs of COVID-19 treatment for people who have lost their health insurance in recent weeks, along with their jobs.

Some medical experts have called on the administration to allow newly uninsured people to sign up for health insurance under Obamacare. But at a White House briefing on Thursday, President Trump rejected that idea, saying that "we're doing better than that" with what he called "a cash payment."

Pence explained that the White House Coronavirus Task Force is drafting a proposal "to use some of the $100 billion that we're making available to hospitals to compensate the hospitals directly for any coronavirus treatment that they provide to uninsured Americans.

"We've been working every day to make sure that Americans don't have to worry about the cost of treatment," Pence said.

The idea looks simple at first glance – something akin to "single payer" health coverage for COVID treatment in hospitals, with hospitals providing free treatment using money provided by the federal government.

In practice, though, there could be lots of complications, including whether the pot of money that hospitals are getting actually will be enough. The plan also does not appear to cover the expense of health care that people may need outside hospitals, including testing.

According to Pence, President Trump will consider the proposal and make a final decision on Friday.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dan Charles is NPR's food and agriculture correspondent.

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