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VERIFY: Hospitals do not get extra money for labeling deaths as COVID-19. Here's proof

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the CARES Act will help us clarify this one.

HOUSTON — There is a post that has gone viral on social media claiming hospitals are labeling deaths as COVID-19 so that they can get more money from the government.

Several KHOU 11 viewers wrote the Verify team asking whether there is any truth to that. The Facebook post has gotten the attention of David, Jimmy, Marilyn and at least 1,000 others who have shared the meme.

The questionable post said: “Hospitals get an extra $13,000 if they diagnose a death as COVID-19 and an additional $39,000 if they use a ventilator!”

Credit: KHOU 11

We have two sources for this one: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the CARES Act.

First, a little background. When a Medicare patient goes to the hospital, Medicare pays set rates. But, in March, President Trump signed into law the CARES Act to help address the economic fallout of COVID-19. 

The law increased Medicare payment to hospitals by 20% for cases involving COVID-19, but they do not get extra money for a COVID-19 death.

So, where do the figures $13,000 and $39,000 come from? Those are merely estimates made by several researchers who claim they made those projections based on government payments made to hospitals in previous years for similar respiratory conditions. They do not include actual Medicare payments to hospitals for COVID-19 diagnosis.

So, we can verify that the government will pay more to hospitals caring for patients with COVID-19. But not because someone dies from the virus.

Facebook has flagged the online post warning consumers that it contains partly false information.

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