Florida’s caseload surged around the June cutoff date for the high-impact distribution. Between March and June 10, 2,801 people in the state had died from Covid-19 and 67,371 had tested positive for the virus, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.
Two months after the cutoff date, deaths had nearly tripled and the state was coping with an eightfold increase in cases.
Jackson and Shands are among 30 safety net hospitals designated to treat Florida’s poorest and typically uninsured residents. Combined, the hospitals have treated 60 percent of the state’s 46,693 hospitalized Covid-19 patients, but have received a sliver of the funding given to some states that saw fewer infections.
Gainesville-based Shands Hospital lost $160 million in revenue because of the pandemic and has received only $31.4 million in CARES Act aid. The shortfall forced Shands CEO Ed Jimenez to freeze employee raises indefinitely.
“Imagine you’re a nurse, and you take care of Covid patients, and your boss just said you don’t get a raise,” Jimenez said in an interview. “If Florida had gotten its fair share, if the safety nets had gotten their fair share, if my hospital had not been overlooked in the safety net tranche, things would be better.”
“They wouldn’t be great but they’d be better,” Jimenez said.
While Shands received $31.4 million from the Provider Relief Fund’s first phase of general distribution, it received no high-impact aid.
Jackson, which lost more than $78 million in revenue from the pandemic, said it received a combined $108 million from high-impact and general distributions. HHS data shows Jackson received $83.1 million from the high-impact fund.
And both Shands and Jackson got nothing from $14.4 billion set aside for safety net providers because, under HHS rules, both hospitals made too much money.
In Jackson’s case, the federal agency counted revenue from a tax levied by Miami-Dade County that funds the hospital. At Shands, Jimenez was unable to write off $68 million tied to the teaching hospital’s partnership with the University of Florida.
“After that, not a dime,” Jimenez said of the first phase of cash. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott heard his complaints, he said, but the Republican lawmakers told him there was little they could do.
“At the end of the day, it’s HHS, which is not subject to the will of the Congress or Senate,” JImenez said.
Talks with HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan about updating the distribution rules went nowhere, Migoya said.
“Deputy Secretary Hargan was talking to me about it, and trying to figure out how to help us,” Migoya said. “It still didn’t happen.
“Obviously that was never the intent of the CARES money — that was to make up for lost revenues, but we’re not even close to that,” Migoya said.
When asked about the complaints from Jimenez and Migoya, a HHS spokesperson who would speak only on the condition of anonymity pointed to $20 billion set aside for Phase 3 of the general distribution, which opened for applications Oct.