Tough times are hitting California hospitals and patients, according to a survey by the state hospital association.
Hospitals reported a 73% increase in patients having difficulty paying out-of-pocket healthcare costs and a 30% decline in volume for elective procedures. And 33% of hospitals surveyed said they are seeing more uninsured in their emergency rooms. A total of 82 chief financial officers at acute-care hospitals statewide responded to the survey conducted in November 2008.
The growing number of uninsured patients, coupled with inadequate Medi-Cal (Medicaid) payments and the ripple effects of the financial market crisis is leading to a decline in the financial health of Californias hospitals at the very time when demand for healthcare services is growing, said C. Duane Dauner, California Hospital Association president and chief executive officer, said in a written statement.
Nearly 70% of hospitals reported that deterioration in investment holdings had a moderate or significant affect on their overall financial condition. Some 16% said they are struggling to exit the auction-rate securities market, and are unable to find alternate financing during the credit crunch. Several hospitals reported concerns over compliance with bond covenants dictated relative to cash and liquidity measures.
More than a quarter of the respondents said that they are unable to access financing for construction or remodeling, equipment or working capital. And 41% said that they have halted construction or equipment purchases because of the recession. Nearly 38% said that they could not meet state seismic mandate deadlines of 2013 or 2015, according to the California Hospital Association. California ranks last among states in Medicaid funding and 49th in availability of hospital beds.
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