Medicaid cuts force hospitals to find new revenue sources or lose 46K jobs

Thousands of jobs may be eliminated at Florida hospitals, thanks to a proposed 2012 state budget that will slash Medicaid payments by $2 billion, according to the Florida Hospital Association (FHA). Such cuts could cost hospitals an estimated 46,000 jobs, reports the Naples Daily News.

In order for hospitals to avoid layoffs, they must find new revenue sources to offset hundreds of millions of dollars in lost Medicaid funds. For instance, Lee Memorial Hospital will need to cut $120 million in expenses or find $120 million somewhere else over the next five years, the hospital's chairman of the board Richard Akin told the Daily News.

Meanwhile, the FHA found a growing shortage of healthcare workers across the state, according to its 2011 workforce report. Although Florida's healthcare system needs to fill provider vacancies, healthcare workers will have to look outside hospital walls to find employment, notes the article.

And the fact that Florida remains a popular retirement destination means the state will continue to treat a growing (and aging) population with limited providers and a reduced hospital workforce.

The FHA recommends the state expand the role of nurse practitioners (NP) and physician assistants (PA) to help hospitals deal with excessive Medicaid cuts that are intensifying their workforce challenges.

The association cited a November 2011 report by Florida Tax Watch that projected cost savings of $7 million to $44 million annually for Medicaid, $744,000 to $2.2 million for state health employee insurance and $339 million across that state healthcare system for giving prescribing authority to NPs and PAs.

Florida's safety net hospitals are expected to be hardest hit by the proposed Medicaid cuts, prompting the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida and its 23 hospitals to urge legislators to reject Gov. Rick Scott's budget, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the Naples Daily News article
- here's the workforce report (.pdf)
- check out the FierceHealthcare article