Safety nets see more patients under threat of cut funding

Safety-net hospitals saw almost three times as many patient admissions as other acute care hospitals, exceeding average admissions within their markets by 44 percent, the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH) said Thursday.

During the past decade, inpatient discharges have increased by 13 percent, and outpatient visits have grown by more than 28 percent, according to the report.

"Our members serve large patient volumes and many of the nation's most vulnerable citizens, often with limited resources," NAPH President and CEO Bruce Siegel said.

NAPH members, specifically, provided more inpatient services than other acute care hospitals nationally and within their markets, averaging more than 20,000 discharges per members in 2010. NAPH members also increased ambulatory care visits, averaging 573,000 visits, at higher volumes than other acute care hospitals, the report noted.

Under health reform, NAPH members will see even more patients, drawing concerns about possible cuts to safety-net financing. The trade association stressed the importance of Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payments and other government funding to support safety nets, which provided nearly $128 billion in total inpatient and outpatient services--half of which was for low-income patients.

The average margin for NAPH hospitals was 2.3 percent in 2010, compared to 7.2 percent of all hospitals across the country. Without Medicaid DSH funding, member hospitals would have suffered a 6.1 percent loss, and without DSH and other supplemental Medicaid payments, that loss would have totaled 10.6 percent, NAPH noted.

For more information:
- see the survey announcement (.pdf)
- check out the survey (.pdf)

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