New Hampshire Blues putting burden of cuts on hospitals

Facing down the prospect of $250 million in cuts from the state over the next two years, the New Hampshire Blues say they will pass the deficit to hospitals rather than their policyholders, reports the New Hampshire Sunday News.

"We really don't believe that's a problem we can step in and solve by filling that gap and adjusting our reimbursement rates," said Lisa Guertin, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire.

The July 1 fiscal year began with the first of cuts to the Medicaid budget that cover the next two years. Seven hospitals responded by laying off more than 600 employees to fill the budget gap. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic offered buyouts to 725 employees.

Guertin noted that the Granite State says it they already subsidizes patient care to a significant extent. According to the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies, hospitals and physician practices received $800 million more in 2009 than the cost of actual care.

Some hospitals have responded by hiking charges. Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover will increase rates 9 percent on Oct. 1 and another 6 percent in January. Some insurers accept up to 6 percent increases during the course of a provider contract.

For more:
- read the New Hampshire Sunday News article
- read The Union Leader article