$224 million awarded to Bexar County health care providers for COVID-19 expenses

University Health System was local provider with largest CARES Act payout totaling $49 million

The recipients included hospitals, doctors offices, mental health organizations, hospice and home care companies, labs, dentists, chiropractors and more.

SAN ANTONIO – Since COVID-19 began to grip our nation, the federal government has paid health care providers billions of dollars through the CARES Act program.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar’s office released a spreadsheet listing those federal payments to Bexar County providers, totaling $224,802,071.

The recipients included hospitals, doctors offices, mental health organizations, hospice and home care companies, labs, dentists, chiropractors and more.

The largest payments went to public hospital systems like University Health, which over four different payments between March 2020 and December 2021 received a total of $49,514,320.

In the spreadsheet, the amount is listed next to the name Bexar County Hospital District, which is operated by University Health.

“University Health has spent about $81 million so far on our response to COVID-19, so the reimbursement of a little over $49 million is certainly a welcome reimbursement,” said University Health Executive Vice President of Communications Leni Kirkman.

Kirkman gave examples of how the dollars have been used, including: PPE to protect the workforce, patients and visitors; COVID-19 screening stations; COVID-19 testing supplies and the multi-million dollar machines to process those tests quickly; and contracts to bring in additional nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists.

“In addition to just under $34 million for increased labor costs, we’ve had about $7.5 million for supplies primarily to test people in our community and test our patients for COVID-19 and another $6 million for PPE,” Kirkman said.

University Health also runs the vaccine center at the Wonderland of Americas, which has been open since the first vaccine rollout.

“The Wonderland vaccine center has distributed over 600,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and is still operating today,” Kirkman said.

Kirkland said that providers don’t ask the federal government for a specific amount of money. They apply through a questionnaire asking about patients, facilities, and costs.

“The CARES Act funding is based on a complex formula of expenses related to the response,” Kirkman said.

As for other large health systems in Bexar County, Cuellar’s office showed three Christus Santa Rosa providers were awarded a total of $559,325.

It shows UT Health San Antonio has received $4,921,409.

Private hospitals like Baptist and Methodist were not listed as receiving any funds.

In a statement, Methodist Healthcare’s CFO Enrique Bernal said the system “has no plans to participate in the COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund program and is proud to be the only provider in South Texas to repay previously-issued government funds.”

Also on KSAT.com:

As case counts fall, WHO chief warns “COVID isn’t finished”

About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.