A statewide survey by the Iowa Hospital Association shows Iowa hospitals provided community benefits in 2009 valued at more than $1.2 billion.
Community benefits are activities designed to improve health status and provide greater access to health care. Along with uncompensated care (which is made up of both charity care and bad debt), community benefits include such services and programs as health screenings, support groups, counseling, immunizations, nutritional services and transportation programs. The total value of these services, as reported in the survey, was nearly $147 million.
All 118 of Iowa’s community hospitals participated in the survey.
The programs and services accounted for in the survey were implemented in direct response to the needs of individual communities as well as entire counties and regions. Many of these programs and services simply would not exist without hospital support and leadership, said IHA President Kirk Norris.
But the ability of Iowa hospitals to respond to such needs is being hindered by the ongoing economic downturn as well as by huge losses inflicted upon hospitals by Medicare and Medicaid.
Total uncompensated care in 2009, including charity care and bad debt, was valued at more than $796.4 million, an increase of $85.9 million (12 percent) over 2008.
Meanwhile, Medicare and Medicaid, which represent about 60 percent of all hospital revenue in Iowa, created approximately $310 million in losses for the state’s hospitals during 2009.
Federal health care reform legislation passed earlier this year moved Medicare several steps toward a payment system that recognizes and rewards high-quality, low-cost providers like Iowa hospitals. Studies have shown that as much as 30 percent of health care is wasted by either being duplicative or ineffective and that some states, including Iowa, do a much better job of providing efficient care. Reducing that waste would save billions of dollars, which could be directed toward providing coverage for the uninsured.
“Mechanisms are now in place to better ensure fair treatment from Medicare for high-value health care providers like Iowa hospitals,” Norris said. “We are also buoyed by the appointment of Donald Berwick to administer the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Dr. Berwick has an unparalleled reputation for leading and inspiring changes that increase health care value.”
The Iowa Hospital Association is a voluntary membership organization representing hospital and health system interests to business, government and consumer audiences. All 118 community hospitals in Iowa, with more than 74,000 employees and a $6.1 billion impact on the state’s economy, are IHA members.