Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Massachusetts' General Hospitals

Trillions for wars, trillions for banks, but the hospitals.... ??

Must I repost the Sicko video again, or.... you know I'm tired of typing it, don't you?

"Milton Hospital finances in a bind; Investments, patient drop-off taking toll" by Jeffrey Krasner, Globe Staff | March 17, 2009

Hit by declining patient volumes, lower investment income, and competition from nearby institutions, Milton Hospital faces a financial squeeze that clouds its future.

Also see:

Swapping Partners Good For Health

The Business of Health Care

Standard & Poor's, the financial rating firm, recently dropped its ranking of $44 million in Milton Hospital bonds to below investment grade, or junk-bond status. The downgrade will not immediately hurt the hospital, since it is not planning to borrow more money soon, but the lower rating illustrates the 106-year-old institution's fragile condition.

No guarantee they would get it.

The hospital had a small layoff in January, and is now looking for more ways to cut costs, said James C. Holleran Jr., vice president of financial services. "We are trying to open every contract," Holleran said. That includes renegotiating prices with vendors, he said. The hospital also has frozen salaries and suspended planned bonus payments.

Milton Hospital's predicament is typical of what is happening at many Massachusetts community hospitals. They are losing patients to large academic medical centers with powerful brand names.

'cause it's about bidness, no health!!!

At the same time, other potential customers are putting off elective procedures because they are out of work or worried about becoming unemployed and losing employer-paid health coverage. In addition, the stock market's decline has severely eroded investments.

"The situation in our community hospitals is that our profit margins are very low," said Donald J. Thieme, executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Community Hospitals, a trade group. "The offset has [typically] been nonoperating or investment income. When that craters, you become extremely vulnerable."


Some community hospitals are in danger of violating their debt covenants - target measures of financial health that they have promised lenders they will maintain. Usually, hospitals that borrow through tax-free bond offerings are required to generate revenues greater than debt payments, and also must keep a specific amount of cash on hand....

The hospital's investments performed poorly.... Holleran said there has been a decline in endoscopies, a procedure which involves a camera being inserted into a patient's stomach.

I think I'd be avoiding that as long as possible; how does that camera get there, huh? Only one of two ways, and both are a one-way street in these parts!!!
Ain't winning my heart that way.

Even some patients who have health insurance are putting off such procedures, because they often require $150 copayments. In addition, health insurers and employers are trying to clamp down on expensive imaging procedures like CT scans. More patients are opting for basic X-rays, which generate less money for hospitals.

That's why YOU are going to PAY, Amurkln worker!!!

: Obama Will Tax Your Health

"Our hospitals across the board, both academic and community, are facing fierce economic challenges," said Ellen Lutch Bender, president of Bender Strategies, a Boston healthcare consulting firm....

Do we really need those? Isn't that waste right there?