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GA's independent hospitals hurting



Independent hospitals—the local stalwarts that birth babies, handle heart attacks and support Little League teams, too—are facing hard times. The new healthcare law will demand more of every hospital, including expensive records systems and more attention to quality care, and meanwhile both the government and private insurers want hospitals to be more efficient. Those demands will make it difficult for many independent hospitals to remain independent. Statewide, about two in five hospitals are losing money. But quite the opposite holds true for hospitals that are part of a larger network, whether a for-profit chain or a local nonprofit system. Many turned in strong financial performances in 2010, according to a review by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Piedmont Hospital, for example, enjoyed its best profit margin of the decade in 2010. The five-hospital WellStar Health System's profit margin last year was double that of 2007. Smaller systems and standalone community hospitals, however, struggled to show a modest profit or just to break even.


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