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Major hospital chains reap billions in federal bailout money while sitting on piles of cash: report

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Steve Mnuchin and Donald Trump (Mandel Ngan:AFP)

According to a report from the New York Times, a substantial amount of federal funds that were designated to support hospitals overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic ended up being shipped off to major hospital chains already flush with cash in the bank.

The report begins by noting that Providence Health System, one of the country’s largest and richest hospital chains, was the recipient of $509 million in government aide even though the company is loaded with so much money it invests its excess cash and reaps big rewards.

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According to the Times, the Seattle-based hospital chain “invests in hedge funds, runs a pair of venture capital funds and works with elite private equity firms like the Carlyle Group,” adding, “It is sitting on nearly $12 billion in cash, which it invests, Wall Street-style, in a good year generating more than $1 billion in profits.”

“With states restricting hospitals from performing elective surgery and other nonessential services, their revenue has shriveled. The Department of Health and Human Services has disbursed $72 billion in grants since April to hospitals and other health care providers through the bailout program, which was part of the CARES Act economic stimulus package,” the report states before adding, “So far, the riches are flowing in large part to hospitals that had already built up deep financial reserves to help them withstand an economic storm. Smaller, poorer hospitals are receiving tiny amounts of federal aid by comparison.”

According to research group Good Jobs First, a review of federal data reveals that twenty large healthcare chains were the recipients of more than $5 billion in recent weeks with the Federal government preparing to pump another $100 into the pipeline.

“Those hospital chains were already sitting on more than $108 billion in cash, according to regulatory filings and the bond-rating firms S&P Global and Fitch. A Providence spokeswoman said the grants helped make up for losses from the coronavirus,” the Times reports. “Those cash piles come from a mix of sources: no-strings-attached private donations, income from investments with hedge funds and private equity firms, and any profits from treating patients. Some chains, like Providence, also run their own venture-capital firms to invest their cash in cutting-edge start-ups. The investment portfolios often generate billions of dollars in annual profits, dwarfing what the hospitals earn from serving patients.”

Noting that many of those same hospital groups, including Providence, are nonprofits, and thus “generally don’t have to pay federal taxes on their billions of dollars of income,” the Times notes smaller hospitals without the pull in Washington D.C. with the help of lobbyists are barely hanging on as COVID-19 patients overwhelm their capabilities.

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The Times reports that the Health and Human Services department “devised formulas to quickly dispense tens of billions of dollars to thousands of hospitals — and those formulas favored large, wealthy institutions.”

“One formula based allotments on how much money a hospital collected from Medicare last year. Another was based on a hospital’s revenue. While Health and Human Services also created separate pots of funding for rural hospitals and those hit especially hard by the coronavirus, the department did not take into account each hospital’s existing financial resources,” the reports states, adding, “Hospitals that serve a greater proportion of wealthier, privately insured patients got twice as much relief as those focused on low-income patients with Medicaid or no coverage at all, according to a study this month by the Kaiser Family Foundation.”

According to Niall Brennan, president of the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute, “If you ever hear a hospital complaining they don’t have enough money, see if they have a venture fund. If you’ve got play money, you’re fine.” 

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2020 Election

‘At the edge of an abyss’: Experts warn America could plunge into sectarian violence after election

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Experts on international conflict resolution are warning that the United States is on the verge of seeing a wave of sectarian violence unleashed by the 2020 presidential election.

In interviews with NPR, several experts said the United States is exhibiting troubling signs that other countries that have been plagued by sectarian violence have shown in recent decades.

"We thought we were immune to it," said Tim Phillips, the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Beyond Conflict. "When we looked at our own problems, we thought: 'Of course we have some big issues, but we're in a sense immune from an us-versus-them mindset, a sectarian mindset, where there could be real conflict.'"

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2020 Election

Trump’s massive rallies amid COVID-19 pandemic are flopping in key battleground states

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It is no secret President Donald Trump loves to bask in MAGA glory at his rallies, but a new survey shows his campaign blitz may be backfiring as voters wonder if the president bears responsibility for hosting potential super-spreader events while COVID-19 batters the Midwestern United States.

A new survey, compiled of voters in six battleground states—Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—found that a great number of voters view Trump "much less" or "somewhat less favorably" due to his continued behavior amid the coronavirus pandemic, reports US News. Despite alarming upticks in cases across the Midwest, Trump has continued to visit vulnerable states and hold massive rallies all while disregarding COVID-19 mitigation practices.

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MSNBC’s Morning Joe shreds Jared Kushner for bragging about Trump’s COVID-19 disaster

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough blasted Jared Kushner for bragging about actions that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths from the coronavirus.

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and White House adviser told reporter Bob Woodward the president had wrested control of the pandemic response away from the doctors, and the "Morning Joe" host said that admission was damning.

"We actually have the 'Perry Mason' moment," Scarborough said. "We actually have the person on the witness stand who is actually testifying against interests for himself and for Donald Trump. They deliberately, deliberately 'freed' America from the doctors and the scientists, so by the end of this, 400,000 people will be dead. Almost as many Americans who died in World War II."

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