After Cooper Green closes, Birmingham hospitals left holding bag

Since Cooper Green Mercy Hospital in Birmingham, Ala., closed, the city's other safety net providers have been shortchanged on payments for treating low-income patients, reported the Birmingham News.

Altogether, hospitals in Jefferson County are owed as much as $4 million for the care they provided, according to the article.

County officials contend that they do not owe all of the money, and have suggested that at least some of the patients would have been part of those hospitals' normal charity care load and would not have sought care at Cooper Green, according to the article. Moreover, it has few contracts in place with local providers.

The debt-ridden Jefferson County filed for municipal bankruptcy in 2011, the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. It has been deeply cutting services since then. It closed Cooper Green to inpatients in January.

Safety net hospitals elsewhere in the country are also encountering struggles to stay open. In Florida, the state Legislature recently approved a plan to require special taxing districts statewide to share revenues, which could deplete safety net hospitals of millions of dollars a year, WFSU reported.

To learn more: 
- read the Birmingham News article
- read the WFSU article