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 Trump’s administration.
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.
“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.