U.S. community hospitals face worsening financial pressures as government reimbursement shortfalls continue to increase and bad-debt rates climb higher, two analyses released by the American Hospital Association show. The amount of underpayment by Medicare and Medicaid programs increased more than eightfold in eight years, growing to $31.9 billion in 2007 from $3.8 billion in 2000, the analysis shows. Those figures were computed using actual care costs, not charge rates. Hospitals were paid 91 cents for every dollar they spent on Medicare patients, and 88 cents for every dollar they spent on Medicaid patients. Meanwhile, uncompensated-care costs at community hospitals also continued to climb in 2007, reaching 5.8% of all expenses posted, the analysis shows. The figure is not expected to improve when 2008s statistics come in, as uncompensated care is driven partly by unemployment rates and the corresponding lack of insurance, said Caroline Steinberg, the AHAs vice president of trend analysis.
Late News: but hospitals face more reimbursement pressures: AHA
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