KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

New Report Finds Lackluster Growth For Nonprofit Hospitals

Moody's finds that the hospitals reporting the slowest rate of revenue growth in 20 years, the Wall Street Journal reports. Also in hospital news, a new urgent care center in New Orleans is off to a good start and California officials weigh one chain's efforts to take over more facilities.

The Wall Street Journal: Hospitals Put On Sick List
Nonprofit hospitals are under increasing financial pressure, with revenue growing at the slowest rate in at least two decades, according to a new report from Moody's Investors Service. The 4% median revenue growth rate, based on a review of 401 hospitals' fiscal 2010 financial results, is the lowest the firm has seen since it started tracking the figure two decades ago, Moody's officials said in a report set to be issued Wednesday. Though the hospitals have been pushing hard to reduce expenses over the past few years, around 20% of those in the study were still running in the red on an operating basis. Even those that were in the black achieved fairly thin margins, with 63% of all the hospitals achieving results between break-even and 5% (Mathews, 8/10).

New Orleans Times-Picayune: 24-Hour Urgent Care Center Sees Brisk Traffic In Eastern New Orleans
The newly opened urgent care center on the old Methodist Hospital campus saw almost 200 patients in its first full week of operation, about three times what city officials expected for the first all-hours medical service east of the Industrial Canal since Hurricane Katrina. ... Both the urgent care center and the hospital are projects of the state-chartered Orleans Parish Hospital Service District. [Mayor Mitch] Landrieu made restoration of health care facilities a pillar of his campaign (Barrow, 8/9). 

California Watch: Senator Asks Attorney General To Review Hospital Sale With Care
The chairman of the state Senate Health Committee is asking Attorney General Kamala Harris to take a skeptical look at approving the purchase of Victory Valley Community Hospital by Prime Healthcare Services. ... .The most recent California Watch report detailed that after Prime acquired nearly a dozen hospitals in Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino counties, the rate of elderly patients admitted from the emergency room to hospital beds jumped by 40 percent. The chain has reaped tens of millions more as a result of admitting more Medicare patients than the state average, rather than treating them on an outpatient basis (Jewett, 8/10). 

Dallas Morning News: UT Regents Authorize Settlement To End UTSW Investigation
The University of Texas System agreed Tuesday to pay more than $1 million to settle federal and state investigations of UT Southwestern Medical Center. UTSW has been under investigation for possible Medicare and Medicaid fraud since at least 2008, according to records obtained by The Dallas Morning News (Dunklin, 8/9).

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