Hospitals slam study saying provider relief funds went to wealthy hospitals

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The American Hospital Association is taking aim at a recent study published in JAMA Health Forum that found that hospitals in a strong financial position before the pandemic received more money from the COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund. 

The study, published Oct. 22, found that critical-access hospitals received 40 percent lower funding than larger and wealthier facilities. It also found that more funding went to hospitals caring for the greatest number of COVID-19 patients, which typically were larger academic medical centers and bigger hospitals.

The AHA said that while the study authors correctly stated that small rural hospitals received less of funding for some of the distribution rounds, they "explicitly and seemingly arbitrarily excluded other targeted PRF payments to rural and so-called safety-net providers, without providing a rationale for this omission."

In addition, the AHA said hospitals didn't apply for the specific amount of funds they received and that if they received more funding than their COVID-19-related expenses and lost revenue, the excess funding will be returned. 

The AHA also said it should not be a surprise that larger hospitals and health systems serving more COVID-19 patients received more relief, especially from the high-impact payment distribution. 

"While we welcome transparency of the PRF and exploration of the realities faced by hospitals during the pandemic, this study falls short," the AHA said. 

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