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Hospital Association makes point on uncompensated care
While healthcare reform has been signed into law, opponents have pledged to repeal the law, and gigantic budget deficits overshadow all other arguments.
Americans are not willing to leave people without needed medical care, however, and the people and institutions that provide it -- and ultimately those who can pay, usually through their insurance premiums -- bear the cost.
The Nebraska Hospital Association has put out its annual "community benefits" report, detailing charity care, unpaid costs of public programs, community health education and outreach, community-based clinical services, health professions education, research, subsidized health services and community building activities.
This year's report, which uses 2009 data, the most recent available, lists contributions of:
* $130.4 million in Medicaid subsidation.
* $368.7 million in uncompensated care
* $1 billion in total community benefit contributions and bad debt
The $130.4 million in Medicaid losses covers the difference between what Medicaid pays for services and the actual cost hospitals incurred. The combined Medicaid and Medicare shortfall created approximately $480 million in losses for the state's hospitals, according to the report.
"Because more than 50 percent of all hospital stays in Nebraska are paid for by Medicare and Medicaid, hospitals are vulnerable to changes in public policy and payment inadequacy," the report said.
Those involved in debating healthcare reform would do well to remember that whatever the reform, someone will pay.