Hospitals may be pleading financial hardship in seeking $100 billion more in funding from Congress, but some organizations are already prospering from the government’s largess.
With profit bolstered by hundreds of millions of dollars in federal stimulus money, HCA Healthcare, the giant for-profit hospital chain, reported much higher second-quarter earnings on Wednesday, even as its revenue fell when its huge network of hospitals treated fewer patients during the pandemic.
The company reported $1.1 billion in net income for the three months that ended June 30, a 38 percent jump from the same period in 2019, on lower revenue of $11.1 billion. The news surprised investors, who sent the stock 10 percent higher in early trading.
HCA, already a major beneficiary of hospital bailout money, said it had received a total of $1.7 billion from the federal government so far. Executives told investors they were not sure how much of the latest funding the company would be able to keep under stricter requirements to qualify for the funds, but it recorded $822 million before taxes during the most recent quarter.
Sam Hazen, HCA’s chief executive, said on a call with analysts that the system had treated 33,000 Covid-19 patients hospitalized at its facilities, including 5,000 currently. The company operates a large number of hospitals in states like Florida and Texas that are experiencing a sharp surge in cases.
HCA was not immune to the pandemic’s impact on its business. Revenue from emergency room visits and outpatient surgeries was down by a third, although executives said patient volumes had started to rebound in recent weeks. They would not predict when all of their patients would eventually return.
Mr. Hazen, who stressed that HCA had not furloughed or laid off any employees, emphasized the pandemic was not over. “It’s not something that’s going to go away necessarily, but our ability to scale up, scale down, scale up, I think has been proven,” he said.