Fact Checkers Agree With MN State Senator That Hospitals Make More Money From COVID-19 Diagnoses

Scott Jensen and Laura Ingraham

Minnesota State Senator Scott Jensen has been vindicated on his claim that hospitals stand to make more money from diagnosing patients with coronavirus than they do from treating regular patients with respiratory ailments.

Jensen has sounded the alarm about the potential for corruption of COVID-19 statistics and reporting for over two weeks. He appeared on Fox News earlier this month to explain how Minnesota’s standards for labeling a death as virus related seem to be lackadaisical and may be ripe for exploitation. He later pointed out how hospitals benefit financially from such a diagnosis. Now, his concerns have been vindicated by fact checkers at a national level.

“Hospital administrators might well want to see COVID-19 attached to a discharge summary or a death certificate,” Jensen said in a recent Facebook video.

“Why? Because if it’s a straight-forward, garden-variety pneumonia that a person is admitted to the hospital for — if they’re Medicare — typically the diagnosis-related group lump sum payment would be $5,000. But if it’s COVID-19 pneumonia, then it’s $13,000 and if that COVID-19 pneumonia patient ends up on a ventilator it goes up to $39,000.”

Fact checkers say that the claims the Republican State Senator has made about the economics of hospitals and the coronavirus are true, per USA Today.

“The dollar amounts Jensen cited are roughly what we found in an analysis published April 7 by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a leading source of health information,” says PolitiFact.

Dr. Marty Makary, a surgeon and professor of health policy and management at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health also told USA Today that Jensen’s statements are accurate. “What Scott Jensen said sounds right to me,” he told the outlet in an email.

Jensen is clear that he does not blame individual physicians for any corruption that may occur. Rather, he’s concerned that administrators and other more powerful individuals in the healthcare field may pressure doctors to add a COVID-19 diagnosis to death certificates, even when no specific test for the virus was completed.