Trump falsely claims doctors 'get paid' for Covid deaths as US cases surge
"Our doctors get more money if someone dies from Covid. You know that, right?" Trump told a crowd of supporters in Michigan.
The US president, vying for re-election on Tuesday, cited no evidence in his claims that doctors are inflating the number of deaths from the novel coronavirus in order to receive more money.
Elsewhere in the world, patients with underlying health problems are recorded as having died from those conditions rather than Covid-19, Trump claimed, adding that this is not the case in the US.
"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. It's like $2,000 more so you get more money," the president told supporters.
Trump's claims are not based on fact; Covid-19 is recorded as the cause of death in patients with other health conditions as the coronavirus is determined to have been what killed them, rather than cancer or heart disease.
The false claims have sparked a wave of condemnation from healthcare professionals as the US continues to deal with a rise in Covid-19 diagnoses, hospitalisations and deaths.
The United States has been the country worst affected by the coronavirus crisis.
More than 90,000 new coronavirus cases were reported on Friday, with another 929 dead from the Covid-19 disease.
That brings the number of total cases in the US over the course of the pandemic to more than 9.1 million, and the number of deaths to more than 230,000.
Doctors hit back at 'malicious' claims
Without naming the president, the American Medical Association hit back at "malicious" claims doctors have wrongly diagnoses patients with Covid-19.
"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," said Dr Susan Bailey, head of the association.
"Throughout this pandemic, physicians, nurses, and frontline healthcare workers have risked their health, their safety and their lives to treat their patients and defeat a deadly virus," Bailey was quoted as saying by CNN.
Dr Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious diseases specialist based in Boston, countered Trump's claims in an interview with MSNBC: "Most doctors I know have seen cuts to their salaries, or potentially no increases.
"Our hospitals suffer major financial losses. The American Hospital Association says that hospitals are likely to lose $323bn by the end of 2020, because when there is a big surge, we have to stop all other services," Bhadelia said.
"So this is really damning, and it's actually, as someone who's now anticipating our hospitals getting full again, and watching my co-healthcare workers suffer through this in Wisconsin and the midwest, it just breaks my heart."
Dr Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University's school of public health, described Trump's comments as "beyond the pale".
"Hospitals do get reimbursed a little bit more if it's a Covid pneumonia versus a non-Covid pneumonia...And that was, by the way, designed, and it was a law passed and signed by this president, because we know it takes more money to take care of patients with Covid," Jha told MSNBC.
"We've taken a policy intervention that was reasonable, and turned it into an attack on American doctors and nurses, and it is really beyond the pale," Jha added.