KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Hospitals In Iowa, Kentucky and Massachusetts Face New Challenges, Opportunities

Quad-City Times: "A proposed change in Medicare reimbursement could increase payments to Iowa hospitals by more than $12.5 million next year. At the same time, a rule change on reimbursement to doctors could boost their Medicare payments by 5 percent beginning next year. 'This will mean a great deal to Iowa hospitals that have been struggling for many years,' said U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa. He is part of a group of U.S. House members who have sought to move Medicare away from payment plans that resulted in geographic disparities that 'punished health-care providers in Iowa that provide high-quality care and get low reimbursement rates'" (Lynch, 7/1). 

Business First: Hospitals in Louisville, Ky., "continued to feel the effects of the recession into early 2010, even as rebounds in the financial markets gave a hefty bump to the hospitals' bottom lines," although "Top-line revenue from treating patients grew from a year earlier for each of the area's largest hospital operators … during the first quarter of the year." Ron Farr, CEO of Jewish Hospital & St. Mary's HealthCare Inc., "attributed his company's wider operating loss for the period partly to limited gains in patient volumes and severance and unemployment costs related to layoffs. Farr also pointed to other pressures hospitals are facing, such as rising bad debt and charity care and lost business from individuals whose COBRA benefits have expired" (Adkins, 7/2).

Meanwhile, "[a] loose coalition of consumer groups, community health centers, and competing hospitals plans to ask state regulators later this month to impose tough conditions on the purchase of nonprofit Caritas Christi Health Care by a New York private equity firm," The Boston Globe reports. "Members of the coalition already have been holding informal talks with regulators. One condition they will propose is a requirement that the buyer, Cerberus Capital Management, pledge not to sell the Boston-based chain of six Catholic hospitals for five to six years rather than the three-year period stipulated in the sales agreement. They also want Cerberus to create a charitable foundation to fund health programs in communities where Caritas has hospitals. Caritas and Cerberus executives oppose both conditions" (Weisman, 7/1). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.