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Regional News/Midwest: Report on Illinois hospitals shows their economic impact, struggles, and other news


By Rachel Landen and Associated Press
Posted: March 29, 2014 - 12:01 am ET
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Illinois' nearly 50 health systems and more than 200 hospitals contribute $83.4 billion annually to the state's economy, according to a report issued last week by the Illinois Hospital Association. Looking at their financial health, however, shows 39% of Illinois hospitals operated in the red during the past two years, the report noted.

Medicare and Medicaid payment cuts have contributed to Illinois hospitals' financial challenges. Since 2011, the state has seen more than $380 million in Medicaid reductions, while in the past decade, Medicare payments have dropped by about $11 billion.

However, the report also found that even as Illinois lost 217,300 jobs between 2000 and 2013, it gained 115,600 healthcare positions. One of every 10 jobs in Illinois is in the healthcare sector, with hospitals and health systems generating close to 450,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Also, Illinois hospitals account for $5.2 billion in community contributions, which includes $704 million in charity care, the unreimbursed cost of training medical professionals, research not covered by grants and bad-debt forgiveness, according to the report.

Follow Rachel Landen on Twitter: @MHrlanden

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Missouri hospitals cutting jobs, capital spending

Missouri hospitals have eliminated about 1,000 positions and put a hiring freeze on more than 2,100 vacant positions in the past six months, the state hospital association said last week while pushing for an expansion of the state's Medicaid program.

The Missouri Hospital Association said its members also have canceled or delayed more than $100 million in capital improvements, and some hospitals are now considering where to pare back services such as oncology or hospice care.

The association said the cutbacks are in response to federal funding cuts, high costs of treating the uninsured and changing hospital utilization patterns by patients.

Hospitals have teamed up with the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry to support an expansion of Medicaid eligibility to thousands of lower-income adults, which would bring in billions of additional federal dollars under the terms of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

They contend that the additional federal Medicaid money is needed to stabilize the hospitals' finances.

Chamber President and CEO Dan Mehan said the hospital job reductions are the start of “a very real and dire trend.”

“We're starting to see medical deserts created in parts of the state,” added Herb Kuhn, president and CEO of the hospital association. —Associated Press


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