Thursday, Jul. 30, 2009

The Hospitals

Many community hospitals operate on thin margins, in part because of below-cost Medicaid reimbursements and the expense of treating the uninsured. Emergency rooms are overflowing, and many hospitals are struggling to deal with outdated record-keeping systems.

What They Like: Federal investments in information technology could help hospitals modernize medical record-keeping. Getting coverage for the uninsured would mean hospitals could cut down on charity care. Tighter regulation on physician ownership of hospitals would benefit nonprofit community hospitals.

What They Don't Like:
A public health-insurance plan, which Congress is considering, could base reimbursement rates on Medicare, which pays less than private insurers. Hospitals could see gradual reductions in the hardship payments they receive to provide charity care, but which they use to cover other shortfalls.