ACADEMIC HEALTH CENTERS: Cramped by Managed Care
Academic health centers (AHCs) make a unique contribution to their communities by delivering highly specialized care, but they are "being threatened by increasing competition in health care markets," according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. Specifically, the growth of managed care is steering patients away from AHCs and into less expensive hospitals, lowering the clinical revenues that have traditionally subsidized their patient care mission. Because of "their higher costs, AHCs have not done particularly well in attracting patients from managed care plans," according to lead author James Reuter of Georgetown University. The report, entitled "Patterns of Specialty Care: Academic Health Centers and the Patient Care Mission," found that although AHCs comprise only 2% of all community hospitals in the nation, they account for 47% of trauma units, 46% of burn units and 31% of HIV/AIDS units. In addition, public AHCs treat a disproportionate share of Medicaid and charity cases, including those involving HIV/AIDS, high-risk infant and trauma care. The study concludes that AHCs are essential contributors to the provision of highly specialized care in their communities (Commonwealth Fund release, 1/99). To order Commonwealth Fund publications, call 888-777-2744.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.