AHA: Elective care, admits down, and budgets stressed

Here's a new batch of financial stats from the American Hospital Association on its members and, of course, they're filled with blood and gore. (Maybe hospital execs should hire the witches from Macbeth to do the intro at this point.)

The stats, which detail a continued grim financial picture for hospitals under the current economy, suggest that fewer patients were admitted to hospitals or sought elective care during the first quarter of this year. In fact, six out of 10 hospitals reported performing fewer elective procedures, with 18 percent reporting a significant decline. At the same time, 38 percent of hospitals said that their admissions fell moderately, while 17 percent reported a significant drop in admissions.

Meanwhile, the number of patients covered by lower-paying safety-net insurance has climbed for a remarkable 46 percent of respondents. (The amount climbed dramatically for 8 percent since the beginning of the year, as compared with the same period a year ago.)

Under such stresses, six out of 10 hospitals saw operating margins fall, with half reporting significant declines for the calendar year to date as compared with the previous year. To respond, almost half have instituted job cuts since September, 22 percent have reduced services and 9 percent were considering a merger.

To learn more about the survey:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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