After the $178 billion in CARES Act money for the "Provider Relief Fund" dried up in January 2022, hospital coders were no longer required to list COVID as cause of death.
"They got paid individually for positive tests. If you got ventilated. If you died a COVID-related death, it was $70,000 plus. It was really high numbers," says Jennifer Bridges, former nurse at Houston Methodist Hospital.
"The hospitals were actually trying to get them to switch the cause of death to COVID-related so they could get higher reimbursements. Some of them did, but the ones that I know lost their jobs because they refused to. They said no, that's unethical and we're not doing that."
Bridges is among those suing Houston Methodist after being fired for refusing the COVID vaccine.
"We still have 113 people strong, all the way from doctors to dietary, physical therapy, nurses. You name it, they're on our lawsuit," she says.
The lawsuit, says Bridges, has reached the federal court level.