The Maine Hospital Association is seeking a $120 million relief package from the state.

In a letter to Gov. Janet Mills dated Thursday, the hospital association and Maine Medical Association said that revenue has fallen sharply since the federal and state governments responding to the coronavirus pandemic recommended that doctors and hospitals cease non-emergency services in March.

Hospital revenue has dropped 50 percent, the letter said, and some independent medical practices have seen income drop by as much as 90 percent. Even with millions of dollars in federal aid, the two groups estimate the net losses in Maine since the pandemic hit are $260 million and growing.

Hospitals across the nation are in the same situation. The Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic produced $1 billion in net operating revenue in 2019, but expects to lose $900 million in 2020 despite furloughing workers, cutting doctors’ pay and halting new construction projects, The New York Times reported.

Late Thursday, Mills issued a statement saying she welcomed the medical association’s proposal and will ask the state Department of Health and Human Services and her Economic Recovery Committee to review it.

“However, one thing is clear: the need for funding to stabilize and grow Maine’s economy will far exceed the availability of what has been awarded to Maine thus far,” she said. “It is absolutely crucial that Congress and the president provide additional financial support, as well as greater flexibility to use the current funding, in order for Maine to protect its residents and maximize its economic recovery.”


While turning away non-emergency treatment and procedures, hospitals and doctors provided care to COVID-19 patients as well as an array of emergency services, such as births and injuries, said the letter signed by Steven Michaud, the hospital association’s president, and Andy MacLean, its CEO.

“The coronavirus pandemic has tested everything we do and how we do it,” they said. “Through it all, hospitals and doctors have been there for the people of Maine.”

The state recommended that nonessential services such as routine checkups and elective surgeries be delayed, but did not require it. That guidance was lifted in early May.

The state’s hospitals lost about $250 million a month while the recommendation was in place, and have been losing about $125 million a month since then, Michaud said in a telephone interview Thursday night.

The letter also said that insurers and the state and federal governments have saved money during the pandemic because inpatient services and emergency room visits by Medicaid patients are both down by about half. Medicaid is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, and the letter said that the use of medical services by Medicaid patients is representative of all patients in Maine.

“Payers have enjoyed a windfall savings,” the letter said. “Certainly, there are increased costs to the state from the pandemic as well. Yet, it is fairly clear that the state of Maine has saved tens of millions from the dramatic drop in hospital use and other physician care by Medicaid recipients.”


Hospitals, however, have faced increased costs while the revenue has declined, the letter said.

“Our best estimate is that hospital losses in Maine to date are approximately $600 million while independent physician losses have surpassed $40 million,” Michaud and MacLean said, citing figures before offsetting federal aid. “This is a staggering amount of money and beyond what the hospital and physician community in Maine can bear.”

The letter said that hospitals and health care providers have gotten some federal aid, but it’s not enough to cover all the higher costs and some is in the form of loans that will have to be paid back.

The letter also said that as of last Friday, 743 healthcare workers had been infected by the coronavirus, a quarter of all those infected in the state.

Michaud and MacLean said they are seeking a meeting with Mills to discuss the request for aid.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.