The graph above from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows COVID-19 deaths have fallen to a new low, dropping to 369 on Sunday, compared to thousands daily in April. Most deaths from the pandemic continue to be the elderly – the top two lines on the chart – and few deaths have been reported for those younger than 24, the bottom blue line.
This good news may be tempered with the contention in some quarters that the death totals may be skewed..
Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Minn., a physician in Minnesota, said hospitals are paid more if Medicare patients are listed as having COVID-19, and receive three times as much money if they need a ventilator.
Hospital administrators might well want to see COVID-19 attached to a discharge summary or a death certificate, Jensen said
Why? Because if it’s a straightforward, 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.
Jensen issued that warning in the above video in April and was then investigated by authorities, threatening his license to practice medicine.
After deliberations, the investigation was dropped because the doctor had done nothing deserving censure:
I appreciate the fact that the Board of Medical practice is doing what it is charged to do, but still, it hangs over your head like a black cloud until the decision is rendered.
… whoever did this, maybe did a good thing in the long run because we’ve had quite a conversation and truly, we will have to look at the Board of Medical Practice and how wide are the guard rails in which they operate.
In addition to controversy on reimbursements, death counts by COVID-19 alone were reported as only 6% by the CDC last week. The remaining 94% were the virus and other conditions, leading to current discussions on social media on what deaths should be reported as COVID-19.
In some cases it’s easy to determine why someone died. Even though a patient had the virus, but died by poisoning, drowning, etc., their deaths should not have been included (5,122) in the public COVID-19 data.
On the other hand, there should be no dispute that the 5,614 cases with both the virus and obesity would indicate COVID-19 as the major cause of death.
Much of the CDC data does not seem as clear cut. Judge for yourself if it makes sense to list all these deaths as caused by the virus, or would the patients have soon died in any case?
Here’s the CDC list of all deaths and the conditions suffered by patients. Total adds up to more than the death toll, since the average patient had 2.6 ailments in addition to the virus.
On a brighter note for today, enjoy this patriotic video from Towamencin (PA) Society C.A.R. (Children of the American Revolution):