Fitch: For-profit providers stable in Q4 2008

At last, some (moderately) good news on hospitals' financial status. Fitch Ratings has announced that results for the final three months of 2008 for for-profit hospital companies were stable, courtesy of decent reimbursement rates that offset lower-than-usual volumes. Perhaps these hospitals will survive the drop in elective surgeries seen across the industry after all.

What's more, 2009 could be better overall than 2008. According to Fitch, President Obama's stimulus plan--plus moneys in his proposed budget for fiscal 2010--will help hospitals beat back the effects of what the agency expects will be rising bad debt expenses.  A measure that would subsidize COBRA premiums is still iffy, but could help hospitals. And Fitch is optimistic that the $19 billion dedicated to health IT will have an impact as well, though it will take a while for the funds to diffuse out. (The IT stimulus is scheduled to pay out over five years.)

To learn more about Fitch's for-profit hospital prognosis:
- read this Modern Healthcare piece (reg. req.)

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