Can Safety Net Hospitals Survive?

The Need:

health-care-costsHealth-care providers faced between $74.9 billion to $84.9 billion in care costs for the uninsured and people who struggled to pay their medical bills, according to new estimates published in the journal Health Affairs. Using the lower of the two estimates, Urban Institute researchers calculated that hospitals provided $44.6 billion of the uncompensated care, publicly supported community providers delivered $19.8 billion, and office-based physicians provided about $10.8 billion.

Dwindling resources:

Some of the most notable cuts outlined in in the [Affordable Care Act] are to what’s known as Disproportionate Share Hospital payments under the Medicare and Medicaid programs. These safety-net hospitals are expecting to see a total $22.1 billion cut to Medicare DSH payments between the 2014 and 2019 fiscal years, and the ACA originally called for $17.1 billion in cuts to the Medicaid DSH program through 2020.

Jason Millman.

Comments (7)

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  1. Indigo says:

    To answer the question posed by the title, No!. The government’s severe cut to the funding of these hospitals that are in clear need of reimbursement/payment will cause these safety-net hospitals to go out of business.

  2. Wally says:

    Much like the hospitals in El Paso, probably not.

  3. Anne says:

    As long as healthcare stays as expensive as it is, and we have so many people in the population who can’t afford those prices, this will continue to be a problem.

  4. RWS says:

    What a mess! I thought Obamacare was supposed to make medical treatment MORE accessible for poor folks… instead it’s just hurting everyone.

  5. Bob Hertz says:

    $22 billion in cuts over 6 years –2014 through 2019 — is about $3.6 billion in cuts a year.

    The total budgets of safety net hospitals probably exceeds $100 billion a year.

    So this is a 3% cut.

    Painful and stupid, I grant you, but it might not put them out of business.

    This is a great blog, but I ams seeing a bad habit of quoting big numbers like $22 billion and not putting the big number into context of all related spending.

    Dr Uwe Reinhardt has pointed this out several times.

    I am going to keep calling it out. It is the same bad habit that Congress gets into when it gives 10 year spending estimates and bowls us over.