Monday, August 30, 2010

Will Public Hospitals Be a Health-Reform Casualty?

A paragraph in the August 29 WSJ opens:

“Forced with mounting debts from the new health-care law, many loal governments are leaving the hospital business, shedding public facilities that can be the caregiver of the last resort.”

Surely this is an unexpected and undesirable consequence of Obamacare, which was passed with the good intentions of covering the uninsured and Medicaid population, which flock to these hospitals for desperately needed care.

The WSJ article goes on,

“More than a a fifth of the nation’s 5,000 hospitals are owned by governments and may drown in debt caused by rising health-care costs, a spike in uninsured patients, cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, and payments on construction loans sold in fatter times.”

Local public hospitals foresee an expensive future because of new health-care requirements for such expensive items and services such as electronic medical records and other information technologies, tracking and enforcing quality of care of their physicians and hospital personnel, and coordinating care for its patient populations many of whom lack public transportation, phone access, and housing.

To make matters worse, many small hospitals in smaller communities are the economic engines and only health care facilities of their towns and surrounding regions.

Source: Suzanee Sataline, "Cash-Poor Governments Ditching Public Hospitals," WSJ, August 29, 2010

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