Below are excerpts from ProPublica.

  • “Medical staffing companies — some of which are owned by some of the country’s richest investors and have been cutting pay for doctors on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic — are seeking government bailout money.”
  • “Private equity firms have increasingly bought up doctors’ practices that contract with hospitals to staff emergency rooms and other departments. These staffing companies say the coronavirus pandemic is, counterintuitively, bad for business because most everyone who isn’t critically ill with COVID-19 is avoiding the ER. The companies have responded with pay cuts, reduced hours and furloughs for doctors.”
  • “Emergency room visits across the country have fallen roughly 30%, and the patients who are coming tend to be sicker and costlier to treat, the American College of Emergency Physicians said in an April 3 letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. The professional group asked the Trump administration to provide $3.6 billion of aid to emergency physician practices.”
  • “The American College of Emergency Physicians’ 38,000 members include employees of large staffing firms as well as academic medical centers and small doctor-owned practice groups. The letter was signed by the group’s president, William P. Jaquis, whose day job is as a senior vice president at Envision Healthcare, a top staffing firm owned by private equity giant KKR.”
  • “Envision, which has 27,000 clinicians, said it’s cutting doctors’ pay in areas that are seeing fewer patients, as well as delaying bonuses and profit-sharing, retirement contributions, raises and promotions.”
  • “Before the pandemic, Envision made a lucrative business out of buying practice groups in specialties where patients don’t choose their provider, such as ER physicians and anesthesiologists, according to Dr. Marty Makary, a surgical oncologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine who studies health care costs. Envision could then charge patients high prices for out-of-network care, a practice known as ‘surprise billing.'”
  • “’We need to do everything to support health care workers on the frontlines of this pandemic, and we want to make sure they get the resources they need to care for patients and protect themselves,’ the Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing said in a statement to ProPublica. ‘At the same time, federal funds should not be used to bail out private equity firms during a public health emergency, especially when there are no federal surprise billing protections in place to protect consumers at their most vulnerable.’”
  • “Katy Talento, a health adviser to President Donald Trump from 2017 to 2019, offered a different view. ‘If they’re private equity-owned, I have no sympathy, and I don’t think any patient out there struggling paycheck to paycheck — if they have a paycheck — is remotely interested in the crocodile tears of private equity firms and their revenue losses,’ she said. ‘We have to target rescue funds to the hardest-hit areas, and emergency physicians are not the hardest-hit target of our charity.'”