The U.S. government sent billions of dollars in COVID-19 aid to lucrative hospitals with no need for the funds, even as other hospitals failed to meet their needs.
The U.S. chose to distribute funds by using average revenue as a proxy for size and therefore need and did not rely on COVID-19 caseloads, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. As a result, many wealthy care centers received vast amounts of cash they didn’t need, while hospitals that were overrun received the same amount of cash but needed even more.
“It’s a bit like your low-lying house is about to be flooded, and the National Guard shows up and drops off some sandbags for you, but also brings a bunch to the homes on higher ground that are not particularly at risk,” William Schpero, a health economist at Weill Cornell Medicine, told WSJ.
President Biden’s Department of Homeland Security says roughly 90% of the funds were handed out under former President Donald Trump’s administration.
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The hospital mix-up is only one of many examples fo misallocation of COVID-19 relief funds, and Biden’s administration cannot entirely escape blame.
Biden’s flagship American Rescue Plan also allocated billions in COVID-19 funds to state governments that were already rebounding with tax revenue, according to a September report. Instead of using the funds to support COVID-19 responses, the funds went toward new building projects, roads and even seawalls.
“We didn’t need it, to be quite honest,” Kansas House Appropriations Committee Chairman Troy Waymaster said of the $1.6 billion his state received.
The U.S. has largely shifted away from funding infusions as the pandemic waned earlier this year, and Biden now encourages Americans to update their vaccine doses.
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“Virtually every COVID death in America is preventable,” Biden said in October. “Virtually everyone, almost everyone who will die from COVID this year, will not be up-to-date on their shots.“
The Associated Press contributed to this report.