Insurer-Owned Medical Practices Received CARES Act Provider Grants

Medical practices owned by at least one insurer got some of the $175 billion grant fund Congress set up to help providers offset coronavirus-related expenses and losses. UnitedHealth Group, which has been a leader in acquiring physician practices in recent years, received $49 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’s provider relief fund, but returned the money to HHS. “UnitedHealth Group will not seek nor accept any federal aid money. We have returned all aid funds our provider organizations received under the CARES Act,” Kristin Anderson, a spokesperson for UnitedHealth’s Optum, said in a statement. The structure of physician payment for UnitedHealth means its OptumHealth business is insulated from the disastrous effects postponing nonessential procedures is having on primary-care practices across the country. UnitedHealth CEO David Wichmann said on the company’s first-quarter earnings call that two-thirds of OptumHealth’s revenue is risk-based, while one-third come from a fee-for-service structure.

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