The Trump administration is reportedly considering paying hospitals to treat uninsured coronavirus victims

From left to right, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci, Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump, Director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams during a news conference on the coronavirus outbreak, February 29, 2020. Joshua Roberts/Reuters
  • The Trump administration is considering drawing on a national disaster relief fund to pay hospitals to treat uninsured coronavirus patients, according to The Wall Street Journal.
  • There are 27 million American without medical insurance.
  • There are over 100 people in the US infected with the coronavirus, and six people in Washington state have died.
  • Concern has been mounting about how uninsured Americans infected with the illness could afford treatment.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Trump administration is considering paying hospitals and doctors to treat patients with no medical insurance infected with the novel coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

According to the report, which cites a source familiar with conversations on the matter, the adminsitration would draw on a disaster relief fund which can be used to pay medics and medical facilities to treat uninsured victims of disaster like hurricanes.

The Centres for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) had been involved in discussions about deploying the fund as the coronavirus crisis worsens, with the ninth US coronavirus fatality confirmed Tuesday.

The White House, the CMS and the Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.

Concern has been mounting in recent weeks over how those infected with the coronavirus among the 27 million Americans without medical insurance would pay for treatment.

Another factor that may hamper efforts to contain the illness in the US are large medical bills that may be incurred for seeking a coronavirus test, with Business Insider reporting Tuesday that some insurance programs only cover part of the cost of being tested for the disease.

“Deductibles are designed to make people think twice about going to the doctor if they are feeling sick,” Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health-research organisation, told The Washington Post. “In a potential pandemic, the last thing you want people to do is thinking twice about going to the doctor.”

Dr Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, during congressional testimony Tuesday said that discussions are being held about using the National Disaster Medical System reimbursement program as part of measures to combat the illness.