While the COVID-19 outbreak has had a devastating impact nationwide, Southern New Jersey has been hit particularly hard, as it was one of the first states to suffer a widespread outbreak and has also recorded one of the highest death rates. The impact on the market’s healthcare community has been staggering, as financial losses have mounted and key mergers and acquisitions and strategic expansion projet have either been put on hold or canceled outright. The top three health systems in the market—Virtua Health, Cooper, and Jefferson Health—all received millions in federal aid through the CARES Act. Jefferson had to cancel its deal to purchase Fox Chase Cancer Center from Temple University. Virtua Health is now the clear market leader in terms of inpatient discharges following the purchase of Lourdes Health System. While COVID stalled some of the expansion plans Virtua has for Lourdes, officials said they were ready to move forward despite the harsh economic conditions. Telemedicine usage has exploded as providers sought to keep appointments with patients who required non-COVID care. The pandemic will impact providers through the rest of 2020 and beyond, however, and there could be cuts to local large physician groups as budgets tighten. Insurers in Southern Jersey have undertaken several measures to assist patients and providers against thr outbreak, including implementing and extending cost-sharing waivers for telehealth visits, boosting behavioral and mental health counseling, and introducing social determinants of health programs to help residents at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

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