Federal officials gave more than $23 billion in COVID-19 aid to the nation’s top 20 nonprofit hospitals, even as a 62 percent increase in their collective net assets led to parallel surges in the institutions’ total profits and revenues during 2018–2021, according to a new report.
Only two of the 20 institutions have repaid the government for the COVID-19 aid they received.
“The 20 largest nonprofit hospitals in the country continued making massive profits while their cumulative net assets soared to $324.3 billion in 2021, up from $200.6 billion in 2018.
“Those hospital systems received congressional COVID bailouts of $23 billion and only two providers partially paid their COVID bailout back,” according to the report compiled by Open The Books, an Illinois-based research nonprofit that compiles and posts spending by all levels of government in the United States.
The two institutions that have partially repaid the government weren’t identified.
The biggest jump among the top 20 was 92 percent by the Mayo Clinic, based in Rochester, Minnesota, whose assets surged to $17.7 billion in 2021 from $9.2 billion in 2018. The Mayo Clinic received $350,000 in federal COVID-19 aid, the lowest amount received among the top 20 institutions.
The Cleveland Clinic Health System, based in Independence, Ohio, saw its assets rise 60 percent, to $15.7 billion from $9.8 billion, while receiving $118 million in federal COVID-19 aid. Intermountain Healthcare, based in Salt Lake City, the 12th-largest of the top 20, enjoyed a 63 percent growth in net assets to $11.6 billion from $7.1 billion; Intermountain received $518 million in aid.
The Northwestern Medicine system saw a 43 percent jump in net assets, moving to $11.9 billion from $8.3 billion, and received $419 million in COVID-19 aid. The Indiana University Health System went to $10.3 billion in 2021 from $7 billion in 2018, a 47 percent increase. The Indiana facility received $726 million in COVID-19 assistance from the government.
As the revenue poured in for the 20 hospitals, compensation for their top executives soared, often beyond $10 million annually, according to the report.
For example, the CEO of Ascension Healthcare, which is based in St. Louis and is the nation’s second-largest such system, received $13 million in 2021 and more than $22 million over the period covered by the study.
The recipient among the top 20 of the most COVID-19 aid was San Francisco-based CommonSpirit Health with $3.6 billion, followed by Providence St. Joseph Center with $3 billion, Ascension Healthcare with $2.7 billion, Livonia, Michigan-based Livonia Health with $2.3 billion and Sutter Health, based in Sacramento, California, with $1.7 billion.
Meanwhile, the overall health of Americans got worse between 2018 and 2021.
“American life expectancy during this period sharply declined by a staggering 2.5 years from 2019 through 2022. While ‘comparable country averages’ rebounded from a COVID-related drop in 2021, the United States continued declining in life expectancy,” the report found.
“Yet, the cost of health care is still astronomically high, as the average family paid $22,463 in health insurance premiums in 2022. That does not include out-of-pocket costs like co-pays and deductibles, which can be thousands more. This has led to medical debt for about 100 million Americans,” the report continued.