State's hospitals are carrying out national theme

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The rising cost of health care is getting the attention of policy makers on both the national and state levels, with talk of universal coverage and ways to bring the cost of government programs like Medicare and Medicaid under control.

Amid this argument, it's important to remember that hospitals are doing their part, according to the Nebraska Hospital Association.

According to the NHA 2006 Community Benefits Report, Nebraska's hospitals contributed nearly $640 million toward community benefits in 2005, in comparison to $500 million in 2004. That means hospitals provided more than $374 in services per person for every Nebraska resident, without receiving any pay in return.

In order for hospitals to remain financially viable, the money, of course has to come from somewhere, so that means those of us who do pay our bills pay proportionately more to cover the shortfall.

Most of them have been able to keep up with the shortfall, but can't be expected to do so forever.

This is a good time to think about our health care and where it comes from, with "Care You Count On, People You Trust" the theme of this week's National Hospital Week.

The celebration began in 1921 when a magazine editor suggested that more information about hospitals might alleviate public fears about the "shrouded" institutions of the day.

"Nebraskans should be pleased and proud of the outstanding work being done by our hospitals," said NHA President, Laura J. Redoutey, FACHE. "Nebraska hospitals are facing some of the most serious challenges in health care history, including: continued state budget cuts to Medicaid; providing care for the uninsured and underinsured; rising costs and challenges associated with health information technology; rising costs of pharmaceuticals; and a severe health care workforce shortage," Redoutey said.

"Despite these challenges, Nebraska hospitals continue to deliver excellence in health care and provide the quality of care that leads to longer, healthier life spans for Nebraskans," she added.

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