Role of Public Hospitals Unclear Under Health Care Reform Law
With the national health care reform law expected to reduce the country's uninsured population by 32 million, it is unclear whether public hospitals will be as utilized and what that might mean for their finances.
In addition to treating low-income residents, the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems notes that the state's public hospitals:
- Operate more than 50% of California's trauma centers;
- Operate nearly 50% of California's burn centers; and
- Train 43% of new physicians in California.
According to the California Hospital Association, the new law will reduce disproportionate share payments from Medicare to California's safety-net hospitals by $1.3 billion in 10 years.
Melissa Stafford Jones, president and CEO of the California Association of Public Hospitals, said, "While it seems reasonable to reduce payments by a limited amount, it is important to remember that public hospitals have other missions in the community besides caring for the poor."
Frank Arumbula, CFO of Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, said that the government is assuming that uninsured patients will bring in more funds for hospitals once they have coverage.
Carol Meyer, COO of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, said that she is concerned about the number of patientsÂ who will remain uninsured under the new law, particularly undocumented immigrants and homeless residents (Steinberg, San Bernardino Sun, 3/27).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.