Frederic J. Brown / AFP and Getty Images
The real-world impact of the decline in the federal COVID-19 currency has begun in recent days.
Coronavirus tests are not free for non -communicable diseases in some areas. That’s because the program that paid more hospitals and clinics for testing, and treating non-patients with COVID-19, has stopped admitting claims to the last week “for lack of money.” Some medical clinics have already started recruiting uninsured people who come to try and are unable to pay for it.
Free medications for unregistered people are coming – the money will run out next week. After that, the drugs will be covered by the government – for now – but the costs of administering them will not be paid for by the federal program.
In a new key to the COVID -19 response, federal shipments of monoclonal antibody drugs to states – drugs designed to treat people with coronavirus out of hospital – have been reduced. back last week by 35%, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier. Becerra.
Biden officials said like Becerra this was just the beginning. They announced a long list of consequences – short and long – asking lawyers to set aside an additional $ 22.5 billion for sick leave.
Now, that money request is seen in Congress. It has hospitals and health professionals who fear that the U.S. is well prepared to see – let alone drive – what comes with the disease.
As hospitals lose money, staff fear the future will increase.
The loss of this COVID-19 fund is “one more threat” to safety net care homes plagued by two years of chronic illness, Drs. David Zaas, who is the head of medical care for the University of South Carolina Medical network of 14 safe care homes in South Carolina.
He said that even without a disease, hospitals that first serve low -income patients run within strict limits. Add to that “the reduction in cuts, and the increase in costs from the supply chain and production, and the inability of other COVID waves,” and the cause of the disease is clear.
The Provider Relief Fund has been significant for the past two years, he said. His hospital department received “$ 9.8 million of new hospital funding for intensive care of non -COVID patients – going forward,” he explained.
He said the hospital would continue to test and treat non-patients with COVID-19 and would not pay patients for it, so the money for that care would come “from the border. hospitals have unlimited access to our staff and our programs and our staff. “
The reduction in the delivery of monoclonal antibodies mentioned this week could affect health systems and diseases. Zaas’s health system provides those medications to patients and has turned an old restaurant into a grocery store into a COVID-19 infusion center. It is not clear how these drugs will be offered or how much they will cost in the future, he said, although it is not clear if they are expected to be available in different ways in the future.
The company that reports on Zaas ’health system – American Essential Hospitals – expressed these concerns to hospitals that serve low -income and non -essential patients across the country.
“We’re asking the council – and we’re also going to drive – to try to get the least amount of financial aid that is expected to the security industries in the coming months,” Beth said. Feldpush, senior president for policy and support for Essential Hospitals of America. .
He was worried that hospitals would not only have to pay to treat non -patients but also have enough staff to provide that care. Health care workers are being killed by the disease, and many are dropping out of school. Federal funding to help hospitals locate, train and care for staff in the event of a drought, he said, “is what” will hit critical hospitals heavily in the coming months. “
Loss of access to free care can lead to more serious illnesses in the future
Federal funding is declining, the cost of hospital funding and reduced access to the prevention and care of undiagnosed patients are becoming more and more difficult. have ripple effects.
There are 28 million unregistered people in the United States. If the unregistered person is afraid of being tested for coronavirus because of the difficulty of earning money for it, the person may not be tested for the disease.
The person may continue to work on activities in public, such as serving food or driving an Uber. Zinzi Bailey, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said all of those hidden cases could increase in prevalence, with “huge increases, of all kinds.”
“And we’re not going to take care of this,” he said.
Nearly 700 people die from COVID-19 every day on average in the country.
“We’re going back to normal. We’re going to talk. There’s no way to really separate ourselves from the unrestricted people,” Bailey said. Masks are coming, which make it easier for the coronavirus to spread.
At the same time, the country may not know when the new developments will begin – looking to see and look at new trends in the list of medical practitioners about to cut. .
“If we don’t look – because we hope the disease will go away or because we run out of money and the health departments and other agencies can’t do it – then we will be arrested. without knowing it later, “said Crystal Watson, a senior specialist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
Now, home -based trials have worked on unreliable cases of the actual prevalence of the disease in a community, and do not adequately cover water surveillance in the country.
The health finance boom-and-bust continues
Watson was fired but he was not worried that the lawyers would not be able to give him more money.
“This is similar to other health problems we’ve faced in the last 20 years,” he said. “Congress seems to be too tired of funding the crisis response, and so after the people saw that the crisis was over, they were very quick not to cut funding but to lower it. really in projects that are meant to prepare for the next crisis. “
Groups such as the Trust for America’s Health and the National Association of County and City Health Officials have denounced the futility of this boom-and-bust approach to public health funding.
But the cycle continues. The new sick fund is seen in Congress.
One reason for the stand is that Republican lawyers have argued that they need a detailed account of where the COVID-19 money went. At the first news conference of the COVID-19 Press in weeks, last Wednesday, health officials responded that they had provided a lot of details, and that they also took 385 pages of documents given to members of Congress for confirmation.
Gregg Gonsalves, a patient at Yale University who studies public responses to cancer, said the federal government is reporting on a decline in the incidence of the disease. Part to complain about the impasse.
“I don’t understand how they can’t see the cognitive dissonance of lowering the risk and then have to get more money from Congress,” he said. “Either it’s a problem and you want more money, or it’s a problem and you don’t need more money.”
He said that if the cases were low, the country should not give up screening, free tests and other measures to treat the disease. “You hope for the best and you plan for the worst,” he said. “You don’t expect the best. That’s government policy right now.”
In South Carolina right now, Zaas said, there are only 43 COVID-19 patients in their public hospitals, but he worries about the future.
“While COVID numbers are falling around the country, we don’t know what will happen in the next six months,” he said. “I think we’re all worried about a new wave.”