Four things we know of probably helped drive up the number of hospitalizations coded as due to Covid-19.
One was the payment of considerably more funds by Medicare for a hospitalization coded with a Covid DRG than for a comparable illness.
Two was an extra federal payment to hospitals that met a certain threshold of Covid cases during a specified time period, as discussed by Scott Jensen, MD and recent member of the Minnesota legislature, who is now running for governor.
Three was a required Covid test for every admitted patient, which has some false positives and presumably also identifies asymptomatic cases.
Four was extra emergency payments to states that could show they had a preponderance of Covid patients.
Physicians at Stanford’s quaternary (super specialized and able to care for the very sickest patients) pediatric center examined 117 Covid-coded pediatric hospitalizations that occurred during a 9 month period from May 10, 2020 to February 10, 2021. They determined that 45% of these children were not admitted because of Covid. Their paper is short and straightforward. Worth a quick look.