HCA says it’s voluntarily returning $6 billion to the federal government. The money was paid to the hospital chain as part of two programs to prop up the health care industry amid the pandemic.
Some of the money had to be paid back anyway, though not until next year, and some likely didn’t need to be repaid at all. But CEO Sam Hazen says HCA’s revenues have rebounded to the point that it won’t need to rely on the additional government funding.
“We believe returning these taxpayer dollars early is appropriate and the socially responsible thing to do,” he said Friday on a call with investors.
HCA was prominently featured in a New York Times article in June for taking more bailout money than any other hospital system in the country.
The company has avoided layoffs and furloughs, but it did cut the pay of most administrative staff along with all corporate executives and managers. In mid-September, HCA announced a partial reversal of those pay cuts and provided bonuses to hospital staff.
HCA, like all hospital systems, saw revenue plummet as elective procedures were suspended in March and April to preserve protective equipment and hospital capacity.
To date, HCA has admitted roughly 60,000 COVID-19 patients to its hospitals, and in recent weeks has continued to suspend elective procedures in areas where cases are surging. But in the third quarter, the hospital chain brought in more money than it did in the same three months of 2019.