Economy Affects Hospitals In U.S.

From eFluxMedia:

Healthcare companies and organizations are about to confront with a “watershed” 2009, a report released by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s Health Research Institute reveals.

Medical facilities throughout the United States are making great efforts in order to stay afloat amid the financial crisis, even though many of them have had pecuniary issues for a long time, Medicare, Medicaid and other such government health programs often being the ones to be criticized.

The economy already started to have an impact on the health industry and the effects will be more noticeable in the coming year. Despite the fact that the health care industry “historically has been less vulnerable to economic downturns than other industries, the disrupted economy will hit healthcare in 2009,” PricewaterhouseCoopers informed.

ERs could shut doors

From the Las Vegas Sun:

Nevada hospitals are in such dire financial condition that at least two are considering closing their emergency rooms and refashioning themselves as something other than full-service hospitals, according to the head of the Nevada Hospital Association.

Bill Welch, president of the trade group, declined to say which hospitals are discussing the option.

Because emergency room patients with no ability to pay are financially draining hospitals’ bottom lines, they are considering closing and reopening as rehabilitation, psychiatric or skilled nursing facilities.

At What Price Physician Autonomy?

From the New York Times “Today’s Economist” Blog:

After a lengthy discourse on health policy with a physician, I asked him to describe the ideal health system from a physician’s perspective. “Everyone in society should have access to needed health care,” he responded. “Only the physician and the patient should decide how to respond to a given medical condition. And someone should reimburse providers of health care at reasonable rates.”

Leave aside the fact that providers of health care are “paid” for their services, not “reimbursed,” the latter method always breeding bad managerial habits. Leave aside also that the definition of “needed” health care is highly elastic. Focus instead on the core of the ideal: complete clinical autonomy for physicians and their patients to throw whatever resources they wish at given medical conditions, usually at someone else’s expense, with little or no accountability for their preferred treatments’ quality or success.

Most physicians, and I would suspect most of their patients, probably subscribe to this ideal. Alas, a mounting body of research leads experts to doubt that physician autonomy actually serves society well and that it will be affordable much longer.

Medicaid owes Peoria hospitals millions

From the Peoria (IL)  Journal Star:

They aren’t panicking, but Peoria health-care providers have serious concerns about the millions of dollars state government owes them.

Their worries are understandable.

The Journal Star checked with selected providers in town and found they are due at least $32 million from the state – mainly for medical care they gave to people who have low incomes and are on Medicaid. In many cases, the bills are several months old.

Bill would give tax break as incentive for doctors

From the Kansas City Star:

A (Missouri) state lawmaker is pushing legislation that would provide health care workers tax breaks as an incentive for them to see more Medicaid recipients.

State Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, said the bill would allow doctors, nurses and dentists to deduct Medicaid payments from their taxable income.

He said such a move would make up some of the gap between how much the taxpayer-funded program reimburses for health care and how much that care actually costs. The generally low payments have led many health care providers to avoid treating Medicaid patients, creating a bottleneck for those patients to find care.

In the year that ended June 30, Medicaid payments to health care providers was $206.7 million. Crowell estimates his bill would provide tax savings to those providers of about $12.4 million.