SC hospitals predicted to lose $2.3 billion because of COVID-19 response

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FILE – In this April 20, 2020, file photo, a medic moves a gurney at Queens Hospital Center in the Jamaica neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York. The stated mission of The Greater New York Hospital Association is simple enough: to help members deliver “the finest patient care in the most cost-effective way.” But it’s more complicated than that. While the association, which represents health care providers at the epicenter of the pandemic, is a nonprofit organization, it has the balance sheet of a robust private company, pays executive salaries that top $3 million and spent millions more to lobby in Washington for some of the nation’s most profitable hospitals. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – South Carolina hospitals could be facing a financial crisis because hospitals have lost hundreds of millions of dollars responding to the coronavirus.

During the pandemic, South Carolina hospitals have had to cancel many elective surgeries and other appointments, that in normal times, help hospitals pay expenses. So far, state hospitals have already lost close to $600 million and they also have more out of pocket costs.

Christian Soura with the SC Hospital Association explained why that is. “Hospitals are there providing emergency care regardless of what kind of insurance card you have in your pocket,” she said.

Those non-reimbursed expenses have already cost hospitals more than $250 million.

The South Carolina Hospital Association fears hospitals won’t be able to absorb the loss.

And while there is funding in the works at the federal and state levels, the blow could have long term consequences for some hospitals in the state.

Soura continued, “It’s the hospitals we were most concerned about going into this, are the ones we are still concerned about. The smallest, rural hospitals that are already operating in the red or have the thinnest safety net financially speaking.”

Those numbers are just through May 7. When it comes to long term predictions, the hospital association is expecting those numbers to be even greater.

Prisma Health released a statement looking at the impact. Just for the month of April, Prisma Health saw a budget shortfall of $144 million in patient revenues. In March, elective cases were down by 80% and emergency room visits were down by 40%.

Governor Henry McMaster is proposing that at least $200 million of the $1.9 billion the state will receive in coronavirus relief goes towards the state’s hospitals.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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