Some Hospitals Face Hard Times
Walter Reed Army Medical Center will close its doors after nearly a century. By month's end, the Shriners Hospitals will stop its tradition of providing free care to children. And, lastly, hospital bonds maybe vulnerable to downgrades because of potential reduction in Medicare reimbursements and Medicaid cuts.
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Hard Times At Shriners End Free Care For All
For 89 years, Shriners Hospitals have provided free medical care to children in Minneapolis and around the country. But no more. By month's end, all 20 U.S. hospitals will be billing insurance companies and charging some families copayments, marking a major shift in the charity's mission. Shriners leaders say the change is necessary to save the iconic name amid rising health care costs, flat donations and declines in a multibillion-dollar endowment that has been ripped apart by the whims of the stock market (Crosby, 7/23).
Bloomberg: Low-Rated Hospitals Selling As Changes in Health Funding Loom
Two non-profit hospital systems rated BBB- or lower are among the largest sellers of municipal debt this week as potential reductions in federal aid boost their borrowing costs. Community Memorial Health System will issue $345 million through the city of San Buenaventura, California, and MaineGeneral Health will sell $290 million via the Maine Health and Higher Educational Facilities Authority. Hospital bonds may be vulnerable to downgrades because of potential reductions in U.S. reimbursements for Medicare, the government health system for the elderly, and cuts to Medicaid, the joint state and federal insurer of low-income patients, Standard & Poor's said last week (Frier, 7/25).
CBS/AP: Walter Reed Army Medical Center To Close
Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Army's flagship hospital where privates to presidents have gone for care, is closing its doors after more than a century. Hundreds of thousands of the nation's war wounded from World War I to today have received treatment at Walter Reed, including 18,000 troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan The storied hospital, which opened in 1909, was scarred by a 2007 scandal about substandard living conditions on its grounds for wounded troops in outpatient care and the red tape they faced. It led to improved care for the wounded, at Walter Reed and throughout the military. By then, however, plans were moving forward to close Walter Reed's campus (7/23).
Reuters: Historic Walter Reed Army Hospital Prepares For Move
Citing aging facilities and cost-saving strategies, a military base review panel decided in 2005 to close the center's campus in Washington, D.C. and merge its operations with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, which will cost an estimated $2 billion. The hospital will also occupy a new hospital at Fort Belvoir, Virginia (Johnson, 7/23).