President Donald Trump appears convinced. Doctors, according to the commander in chief, are misattributing deaths to the coronavirus because they get more money out of it for some reason. The president cites no evidence or even really explain how it works but it’s something he has said before and repeated it again Friday at a rally in Michigan. “Our doctors get more money if somebody dies from COVID. You know that, right? I mean our doctors are very smart people. So what they do is they say ‘I’m sorry but, you know, everybody dies of COVID’,” he said. Trump claimed doctors are paid “like $2,000 more” for deaths attributed to the coronavirus.
According to the president, that’s what separates the United States from other countries that count COVID-19 deaths differently. “In Germany and other places, if you have a heart attack, or if you have cancer, you’re terminally ill, you catch Covid, they say you die of cancer, you died of heart attack. With us, when in doubt choose Covid. It’s true, no, it’s true. Now they’ll say ‘oh that’s terrible what he said,’ but that’s true,” Trump said. Experts have said that if anything the deaths attributed to COVID-19 are likely undercounted and the real number is higher than what is being reported.
This is not the first time Trump has made the claim without citing any evidence. During a rally in Wisconsin last weekend, Trump said “doctors get more money and hospitals get more money” if they put a death down to the coronavirus.
Doctors had already been pushing back against the allegations on social media and on Friday the American Medical Association joined in releasing a statement that blasts the conspiracy theory without ever actually mentioning Trump. “Throughout this pandemic, physicians, nurses, and frontline health care workers have risked their health, their safety and their lives to treat their patients and defeat a deadly virus,” AMA President Susan Bailey said. “The suggestion that doctors—in the midst of a public health crisis—are overcounting COVID-19 patients or lying to line their pockets is a malicious, outrageous, and completely misguided charge.” Instead of “lobbing baseless charges at physicians” the country’s leaders “should be following the science and urging adherence to the public health steps we know work—wearing a mask, washing hands and practicing physical distancing,” Bailey added.