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Hospital Association: Rumors of inflated COVID-19 death count are unfounded

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. (NIAID-RML)

There are some who believe that the death count when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic is not accurate.

The rumor is that hospitals are inflating the number of people they report having died from coronavirus in order to get more money. For example, some believe that hospitals are attaching COVID-19 to the cause of death to a person killed in a car accident, when in fact the virus had nothing to do with their death whatsoever.

Brian Tabor, the head of the Indiana Hospital Association, calls that whole notion “hogwash.”

“It’s just not true,” he said to Indy Politics. “These are sophisticated tests that demonstrate that a person, whether or not the death was because of COVID or not, because of COVID. There’s a lab test that confirms it.”

Tabor also said that any funding hospitals get, whether it is from the state or the federal government, is in no way directly tied to the number of people they report having died because of COVID-19.

However, he did say that Medicare does pay more to a hospital to cover the stay of a person with coronavirus.

“When a patient does have COVID, medicare does pay more, it’s about a 20-percent increase for a stay for a COVID patient compared to a regular patient,” said Tabor. “That’s something that Congress passed.”

But, Tabor says that increased medicare payment does not cover the total cost of that patient’s stay. Thus, he said this is not a “lucrative endeavor” to seek out coronavirus patients when there are none.

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