Fewer North Carolina hospitals had negative operating margins in fiscal 2004 than in fiscal 2003, but fewer also had margins above the threshold needed for good access to capital, the North Carolina Hospital Association said. Thirty-one percent of hospitals surveyed had negative operating margins in fiscal 2004, down four percentage points from fiscal 2003, NCHA spokesman Don Dalton said. Twenty-six percent had operating margins greater than 5% -- the level the association considers crucial for borrowing at reasonable cost -- a figure also down four percentage points from 2003. The middle group of hospitals, with operating margins between break-even and 5%, grew to 43% from 34%. The 2004 mail-in survey drew responses from 104 of the association's 133 member hospitals, compared with 108 respondents in 2003. The most recent data from the American Hospital Association, for fiscal 2003, showed an industry operating margin of 3.3%, down four-tenths of a percentage point from fiscal 2002. -- by Vince Galloro
N.C. survey finds hospital margins move to the middle
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