Prognosis Grim for State Hospitals, Officials Say
Reflecting declining Medicare reimbursement rates, combined with a nursing shortage, an increase in the number of uninsured residents seeking primary care in emergency rooms and seismic retrofitting requirements, the "prognosis" for California's hospitals is not "good," the Orange County Register reports. With 60% of hospitals statewide losing money, the situation is expected to grow worse as the population ages. The Register reports that most hospitals are "considered successful" when they are able to "stay afloat on investment income." In the past decade, at least 50 hospitals were forced to close emergency rooms. With state-mandated seismic retrofitting costs looming, health industry experts are concerned that entire hospitals will be forced to close in the coming years. However, the Register reports that some hospital officials are attempting to "stop, or at least slow, the bleeding" through the following measures:
- shifting costs to health plans, such as PacifiCare, which raised its HMO rates for hospitals 12% to 14% this year;
- working with community groups to promote preventive care;
- covering tuition costs for nurses earning master's degrees; and
- entering purchasing agreements with other facilities to cut prescription drug spending.
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