New Orleans hospitals collapsing under charity needs

With the city's Charity Hospital out of commission since Hurricane Katrina, a group of five New Orleans hospitals have done much of the charity care. The load, however, has been devastating for the hospitals, which expect to lose a collective $135 million this year. By 2009, if nothing changes, the hospitals' losses should hit the $405 million mark, according to the Louisiana Hospital Association. The hospitals are asking a House committee for financial help.

The hospitals are picking up the slack after the closure of Charity Hospital and a two-thirds services cutback by University Hospital, the two of which handled 80 percent of the city's poor and uninsured patients. Charity received funding to help care for these medically indigent patients. Now, the five hospitals, which include Ochsner Institute, East Jefferson General and West Jefferson Medical Center, are bearing the brunt of the uninsured burden, in a city where one-quarter of adults under 65 are uninsured and 40 percent have some form of chronic disease.

To learn more about the hospitals' situation:
- read this USA Today article

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New Orleans fights doctor flight with loan paybacks. Report
New Orleans health system still on life support. Report
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