California Hospitals Report Mounting Financial Challenges
The economic downturn is resulting in more patients having problems paying their medical bills and other challenges for California hospitals, according to a report released Wednesday by the California Hospital Association, the Sacramento Bee reports (Caina Calvan, Sacramento Bee, 1/8).
The report is based on a November 2008 survey of chief financial officers at California hospitals.
According to the report, California hospitals are experiencing:
- A 73% jump in the number of patients reporting problems paying out-of-pocket medical bills;
- A 33% increase in the number of uninsured patients seeking care at hospital emergency departments; and
- A 30% drop in elective procedures.
In a release, CHA president and CEO C. Duane Dauner stated, "The growing number of uninsured patients, coupled with inadequate Medi-Cal payments and the ripple effects of the financial market crisis, is leading to a decline in the financial health of California's hospitals at the very time when demand for health care services is growing" (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 1/7).
Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
In addition, the report indicates that the tight credit market is making it difficult for hospitals to get financing to purchase new equipment or undertake constructions projects.
The problems getting credit are posing a hurdle to hospital efforts to meet compliance deadlines for state seismic safety guidelines. The report indicates that 40% of hospitals say they cannot meet some deadlines (Sacramento Bee, 1/8).
Capitol Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on CHA's study (Weiss, "KXJZ News," Capitol Public Radio, 1/7).The report is available on CHA's Web site (.pdf). 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.