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NFP Hospitals' Revenue Growth at 'All-Time Low'

Christopher Cheney, for HealthLeaders Media, August 29, 2014

Not-for-profit hospitals are feeling financially pinched as healthcare reform efforts seek to simultaneously increase healthcare accessibility, cut costs, and improve quality.

Marking a second consecutive year of weak financial performance at not-for-profit hospitals, 2013 expenses outpaced revenue growth in the sector and similar results are expected this year, according to Moody's Investors Service.

In a median report released this week, Moody's says "operating revenue growth dropped to an all-time low of 3.9 percent and was outpaced by expense growth for a second consecutive year, an unsustainable trend." NFP hospitals posted 5.1 percent revenue growth in 2012.

Moody's pegged the 2013 growth rate of NFP hospital expenses at 4.3 percent. Expenses grew at 5.5 percent in 2012.

Jennifer Ewing, a Moody's analyst who co-authored the report, says lower reimbursement for services coupled with a shift to outpatient care from inpatient care is bringing financial pressure to bear on NFP hospitals.

She cites several factors dragging on revenue growth: lower reimbursement from commercial payers as they drive harder pricing deals on insurance exchanges as well as shift risk to providers and patients; tighter Medicare reimbursement; "built-in" statutory cutbacks for government programs that help fund hospitals such as reductions in federal Disproportionate Share Hospital payments; and Medicare's proposed "two-midnight rule" for determining outpatient vs. inpatient status accelerating growth of outpatient services at the expense of relatively more profitable inpatient care.

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1 comments on "NFP Hospitals' Revenue Growth at 'All-Time Low'"


Butch Greene (8/29/2014 at 11:08 AM)
Having worked for NFP hospitals for much of my 45+ years as a pharmacist, I have difficulty being sympathetic with their current plight. The waste that I have seen in these facilities (all of them where I have worked) is totally out of control, and no one in administration seems able or willing to address the problem. Physicians are allowed to order duplicate and/or unnecessary tests or procedures which increase their revenues but add to the hospitals' expenses and the patients' bills. Hospitalists are now a required part of every admission and add tremendously to patient costs. As a group, this specialty has been the most useless and incompetent bunch that I have seen in healthcare. Out of maybe 50 hosp- talists with whom I have worked, no more than 2 or 3 were competent, caring, and efficient practitioners Most of the ones that I have seen are not capable of managing a practice and would not have any patients without the captive hospi- tal inpatients on whom they are forced.