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Health

Trump administration will cease federal funding to hospitals that do not report COVID-19 data

FILE PHOTO: White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx talks with a television network at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 30, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will halt some federal funding to hospitals that do not comply with its requirements for reporting data on COVID-19, senior administration officials told reporters on a Tuesday call.

Starting Wednesday, hospitals will be given 14 weeks to provide daily reporting to HHS on COVID-19 cases and deaths, as well as other information such as influenza cases and use of personal protective equipment, the officials said.

Hospitals that fail to comply will lose access to reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, federal insurance programs for seniors, the disabled, and people with low incomes, they said.

The data will help coordinate the federal government’s response to COVID-19, including helping allocate supplies of antiviral drug remdesivir, and distribute its stockpile of personal protective equipment, such as surgical masks, said Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator.

HHS is requiring that hospitals provide daily influenza case reporting because of the likelihood flu season will intersect with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the officials said.

“It is not certain what will happen this fall and winter, however the CDC is preparing for there to be COVID-19 and seasonal flu activity at the same time,” said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Robert Redfield.

Earlier this year, the U.S. government struggled to provide sufficient personal protective equipment to hospitals inundated with COVID-19 patients. It has also played a role in allocating Gilead Sciences Inc’s remdesivir to hospitals after U.S. regulators approved the antiviral drug in May for emergency use in some COVID-19 patients.

HHS took over responsibility for collecting hospitals’ COVID-19 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July. News reports suggested the Trump administration move was aimed at bypassing the CDC, speculation the CDC director has rejected.

Reporting by Carl O’Donnell; Editing by David Gregorio

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