SC hospitals: Financial data on new website distorted

The state of South Carolina recently began posting hospital financial data on its website. However, many of the state's acute care providers dispute the accuracy of the information, GSA Business reported.

Several of the hospital operators reported significant surges in their bottom lines, despite the fact the Palmetto State has not expanded its Medicaid program, according to the article. Profits were up $90 million at Greenville Memorial Hospital during the most recent fiscal year, while they increased $28.2 million at AnMed Health, a regional hospital chain.

Altogether, the state's hospitals turned a collective profit of $1.1 billion last year, up 20 percent from 2012 and 73 percent from 2011, GSA Business reported.

The situation placed the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) in a curious position. GSA Business reported that the SCHA issued a statement that its members "have shared their audited, consolidated income reports, and we continue to encourage (the state Department of Health and Human Services) to use this data in order to give consumers the most accurate information available." However, the association also said "we are concerned that the agency's use of unaudited and incomplete financial data tends to distort profit levels for some hospitals."

An AnMed Health spokesperson told GSA Business that it attributed much of its profit to unrealized stock market gains, and that the website did not post a $107.7 million loss connected to uncompensated care.

South Carolina unveiled its website, www.schealthdata.org, earlier this year, in collaboration with the SCHA. It provides pricing data for 60 of the state's hospitals, as well as pricing data that goes back five years. State officials said they pushed for such transparency in order to address patient demands for more usable pricing information from hospitals. The initiative makes South Carolina one of the few states with a public mandate for hospital price and financial transparency.

To learn more:
- read the GSA Business article

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