Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Cambridge Health Alliance has received three rounds of federal coronavirus relief. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The Cambridge Health Alliance has received $47.5 million from the federal government under a fund authorized by Congress to help health care organizations deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, but is checking to see if the amount is correct under the terms of the aid program, spokesman David Cecere said Wednesday.

“We are still validating that the payments should be accepted as calculated,” Cecere said. “We’re checking the accuracy of the payments based on the methodology” used by federal officials to distribute the money.

The Alliance was awarded $6.8 million in the first two rounds of a $2 trillion economic stimulus bill known as Cares Act Provider Relief Fund … and $40.7 million in the third round. The money is supposed to go to hospitals that admitted 100 or more Covid-19 patients. They were to receive a fixed amount per admission with higher payments going to hospitals such as CHA that care for many poor patients with government insurance or no coverage, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

Many hospitals have reported that they’re losing money because caring for patients with the coronavirus meant postponing elective surgeries and other non-emergency procedures that bring in substantial revenues.

The Alliance is a safety-net hospital with a majority of its patients being low-income people with Medicaid, Medicare or no coverage. As such, it qualified for high-impact payments from the relief fund.

As with other awards under the Cares Act, many payments to health care providers went to hospitals and hospital chains that have ample assets, according to a May 25 report in The New York Times. The story was based on research by Good Jobs First, which used data on distributions to hospitals posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The federal agency’s list showed that Massachusetts General Hospital got $58.1 million under the hospital relief program, for example. (Partners Healthcare, the giant parent of MGH, has reported a deep loss because of the pandemic but expected finances to improve, The Boston Globe reported). In that same Cares general relief category, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, another Partners Hospital, got $45.1 million.

Cambridge Health Alliance did not get payment under the general relief program, but Congress approved the relief fund as part of the Cares Act.

Asked what the Alliance’s financial situation was, Cecere said, “We have incurred losses over the past several weeks but continue to do whatever we have to do to care for our patients.” He didn’t provide details, and the Alliance’s finance committee, which receives monthly financial reports, has not met during the pandemic.

This post was updated to change the headline, which had implied that the Cambridge Health Alliance was dubious specifically because of the size of the government’s award in the third round of relief funding.