New Hampshire hospitals face financial trouble

Another depressing story from the hospital front lines, this time from the state of New Hampshire. A new survey from the New Hampshire Hospital Association concludes that a full 85 percent of its members are still seeing their financial health decrease thanks to the recession. That's a downer, particularly when you consider that 95 percent have tried to reduce costs by lowering overhead and cutting staff members.

The survey also offered some insight into what's pushing these hospitals into the mud. It found that 60 percent of community hospitals were seeing increases in the volume of uninsured patients pouring into their emergency departments. Another blow was uncollectible fees; 70 percent of hospitals said more patients couldn't pay for care during the first three months of 2009 versus the first three months of last year.

Meanwhile, 48 percent said that their ability to fund capital projects, like health IT upgrades and facility improvements, has gotten worse; 43 percent said things had not improved.

Despite this, hospitals are still under pressure to meet community health needs, and those needs are increasing. Demand for clinics, screening and outreach activities is increasing, while charitable contributions are falling, hospitals said.

To learn more about the survey:
- read this HFMA News item

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