What We’re Reading: Financial Worry in Rural Hospitals; GAO Report on Supply Shortage; COVID-19, Cardiovascular Implications

September 22, 2020

Financial worries rise among rural hospitals as federal government loans become due; a report finds shortages of supplies are impeding the COVID-19 response; the effect of COVID-19 on the heart is spotlighted.

Financial Worry Among Rural Hospitals

As the health care industry nationwide continues to deal with surges of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, loans that were provided by the federal government to weather the pandemic are now due for repayment, which has caused financial worry among rural hospitals. As reported by Kaiser Health News, if loans are not repaid in full, federal regulators will stop reimbursing the hospitals for Medicare patients’ treatments until total repayment is provided. While CMS has not yet tried to collect loan repayments or extend the repayment deadline, hospital leaders noted their fear that they will be required to provide payment any day now.

GAO Links Supply Shortages With Impaired US COVID-19 Response

Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report finding that shortages of supplies and equipment are impeding the United States’ COVID-19 response, nearly 6 months into the pandemic. The Hill notes that the report detailed shortages of protective equipment and testing supplies across the country due to high global demand and the limited production of those items within the United States. As state officials try to plan out their pandemic response, they told the GAO that they are having trouble getting answers from the federal government on supply requests.

COVID-19’s Effect on the Heart

The Atlantic published a look at the effect of COVID-19 on the heart. Although the virus is typically associated with adverse effects in the lungs and airways, some hospitalized patients with COVID-19 have died from heart failure. According to several studies, approximately 10% to 30% of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 had high levels of troponin, a protein released into the blood when the heart’s muscle cells are damaged. These patients were noted to be at higher mortality risk than those with no signs of heart injury.