The Health 202: Doctors, hospitals blast Trump’s baseless claims they inflate coronavirus deaths for money

“You know that, right?” Trump said at a Michigan rally on Friday. “I mean our doctors are very smart people. So what they do is they say, ‘I’m sorry, but everybody dies of covid.’” 

Chip Kahn, president of the Federation of American Hospitals, said “it is so offensive.” 

There is no evidence that hospitals and doctors are lying about the number of covid-19 patients. 

That would be fraud and something the Department of Justice could prosecute. “It’s unethical, it’s illegal and it’s inappropriate,” Kahn said.

Without naming the president, the American Medical Association called Trump’s statement a “malicious, outrageous and completely misguided charge” and defended front-line health care workers. “They did it because duty called and because of the sacred oath they took,” said AMA President Susan Bailey.

The pandemic has actually cost medical facilities money, although by how much is unclear. 

Elective surgical procedures, which hospitals were forced to cancel or postpone for much of the spring, generate the most revenue for them. In contrast, carrying for severely ill coronavirus patients for weeks on end consumes lots of staffing hours and bed space for hospitals.

“Frankly, these are very expensive cases on average … the hospitalizations are long and so even the reimbursement is probably way below cost,” Kahn said. 

And hospitals don’t get extra money if a coronavirus patient dies. 

Hospitals bill the government and private insurers for specific services related to specific illnesses, regardless of the outcome.

“Hospitals do not receive extra funds when patients die from covid-19,” the American Hospital Association wrote in a blog post yesterday addressing the claims. “They are not over-reporting covid-19 cases. And, they are not making money on treating covid-19.”

Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University School of Public Health:

However, there is a coronavirus “bonus” for uninsured covid-19 patients.

The coronavirus relief package passed by Congress includes money to pay hospitals for treating uninsured covid-19 patients. The package allows hospitals to be paid 120 percent of typical Medicare rates. 

Yet Kahn feels that, if anything, hospitals aren’t getting paid as much as they need for caring for coronavirus patients. Trump’s comments, he feels, reflected little-to-no understanding of how the coding system works. 

Hospitals can only submit claims for the payments that list covid-19 as a patient’s primary diagnosis. For example, a patient admitted with sepsis due to the coronavirus would be given “sepsis” as a primary diagnosis and “covid-19” as a secondary diagnosis — even though the virus caused the sepsis to begin with. 

Hospitals have asked the Department of Health and Human Services to loosen those rules, charging that the majority of claims for coronavirus testing and treatment would be rejected and ineligible for reimbursement under the program.

Trump’s claim was just the tip of the iceberg in how he talked about the pandemic.

The president switched between blaming others for focusing on the pandemic while simultaneously promising a widespread vaccine within weeks.

He offered extreme depictions of a pandemic response might look like under a Biden administration.

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GoodLife Fitness encourages members to write Ontario MPPs in email blast

a large room: File photo - an empty gym.

© Getty Images
File photo – an empty gym.

In an email that was sent wide to its members, GoodLife Fitness is asking gym-goers to email their local Ontario MPPs as the industry is “currently facing serious challenges as a result of the global pandemic.”

“Between mandated shutdowns, capacity restrictions, and ongoing questions about the safety of fitness facilities, our industry is facing the most difficult time in its history,” GoodLife Fitness, one of Canada’s largest gym chains, said in their email with the subject line “Stand Up for Fitness! | Write a Letter to Your M.P.P.”

The Ontario government mandated gyms close for a second time in COVID-19 hotspot regions such as Toronto, Peel Region, Ottawa and, later, York Region as part of modified Stage 2 restrictions.

The closures are expected to last at least 28 days. The government said it will re-assess based on coronavirus numbers if it will lift the restrictions and allow gyms, among other establishments forced to shut down such as indoor dining, casinos, cinemas and performing arts centres to reopen.

Read more: Poor ventilation, panting can increase coronavirus risk at gyms: experts

“As an important contributor to the fitness industry in Ontario, you can help by sending a letter to your Member of Provincial Parliament (M.P.P.). This letter will serve to support the swift reopening of our closed Clubs and to prevent further closures in the province,” the fitness centre wrote.

A sample letter was then provided to members and addressed to Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott, Heritage, Sport, Tourism, and Culture Industries Minister Lisa MacLeod and Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams.

“We are doing everything we can to work with government and public health experts to be a part of the solution, and to help advise on the decisions they are making for our industry. In order to be as effective as possible in our outreach to government and public health, we need your help!” GoodLife continued in its email.

The gym company said the campaign is being driven by the Fitness Industry Council of Canada.

GoodLife Fitness is facing online backlash on its email.

One user took to Twitter to criticize the fitness company’s move use its members to lobby the government to get gyms either reopened or loosen capacity restrictions.

“Shame on GoodLife Fitness for emailing members to drum up support for reopening. Gyms aren’t safe even with all the hygiene theatre in place. COVID-19 numbers are going wild, it’s time to get used to working out at home,” one Twitter user wrote.

In response, GoodLife Fitness said: “our email is a response to the many members and associates who have inquired about voicing their concerns as our gyms have provided a safe environment for Ontario residents to use. We have taken many measures to help provide members a protected way to workout.”

“People breathing heavily indoors unmasked isn’t safe, no matter how many times things get wiped down,” the Twitter user answered back.


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Katya is ready to blast your earholes with Vampire Fitness


Your dad just calls her Katya, but the ghost of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is about to label her the lithe ingenue coming for his crown as the most iconic musician of all time.

The drag icon has made a (super Russian) name for herself as one of the world’s premier comedy queens, but after climbing the New York Times best-seller list and maintaining her comedic reign over digital streaming, for her next career move, the Boston native exclusively tells EW she “wanted to answer the [call] that so many fans have been asking: Please don’t do music” by, well, doing music.

“I’m not a planner. I’ve actually been working on it for two or three years just trying to get all the melodies right,” Katya says of her forthcoming EP Vampire Fitness on a recent installment of EW’s Instagram Live show Queening Out, though it’s unclear whether she’s speaking earnestly or in jest as she references the onslaught of fellow RuPaul’s Drag Race alums who have taken a stab at recording careers, whether vocally inclined or otherwise. Luckily, Katya falls into the former category, just not in ways you might expect. “I’ve been at the piano for two or three years. I had to take a break so I kind of shelved it…. I’m vacillating between periods of humiliation and enthusiasm about the project.”

The result is an experimental digital distortion of European dance, sex, orgasmic wailing, the sounds of murder, spoken sermons about self-administered dentistry, and, of course, Italian cuisine, all tied together as a “multi-pronged, many-tiered assault” on listeners with “consonant clusters” found in Russian pop songs.

“I wanted to do music that you could hear, like, in a club that I’ve never been to,” Katya promises. “Maybe in a Diane Keaton movie.”

Vampire Fitness is out Nov. 13. Read on for EW’s exclusive track-by-track breakdown with Katya.

“Come in Brazil”

Drag superstar Alaska joins Katya for a divine intercontinental expression of lust as the pair crafts a lush soundscape inspired by incessant fan pleas for drag queens to perform in the song’s titular South American nation. “The chorus is in Portuguese,” Katya reveals of the EP’s first single, though the lyrical content is far too explicit to list here, but we can confirm that it does involve commanding a derriere onto one’s facial region. “These are things I learned not through reading books or watching television programs, but through people screaming them at me all the time,” recalls Katya.

“Ding Dong”

Katya describes her collaboration with longtime professional partner Trixie Mattel as a “bar mitzvah barn-burner,” and that her fellow Drag Race alum and Trixie and Katya’s Guide to Modern Womanhood co-author was “really cooperative” in the songwriting process. “To me, this is such a joke, because once you hear the song, it’s like four words from a movie,” Katya says of the number that takes cues from Ukrainian star Svetlana Loboda’s “Boom Boom” and Eurodance — a stark genre departure from

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