Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 4:02 PM
The Ohio Hospital Association says the poor economy and a new state fee on hospitals are principle drivers of layoffs and other cutbacks this year among its members. Ideastream’s Bill Rice reports.
A previous survey last spring by the OHA predicted that about a third – 35 percent - of hospitals that responded were planning to lay off personnel. This most recent survey, released Monday, shows about half of respondents had laid off employees, and another 18 percent plan to.
The OHA attributes much of that to the poor economy, but says the new state hospital franchise fee enacted to help close a massive state budget shortfall is also responsible. The survey results come just as the first payments of the fee – some call it a tax – are coming DUE.
OHA spokesperson Tiffany Himmelreich says while businesses in all sectors are hurting, hospitals face the problem of having to fulfill the same demand with fewer resources.
Himmelreich: “As other industries are laying off people, those folks are losing insurance but they’re not losing their ability to get sick and they’re still coming to the hospital. The hospital is bound by law and by mission to care for people regardless of their ability to pay.”
The survey of hospitals also found 37 percent have reduced or eliminated services this year, and an additional 39 percent plan to in the future.
Himelreich: “Obstetrics, cardiac rehabilitation, some oncology services, even down to things like home health and occupational health. So it really runs the gamut, it’s a wide variety”.
Himmelreich says such cutbacks don’t necessarily drive down the quality of hospital care, but do affect how far one might have to travel to get it, and how long they may have to wait once they get there.
She says the release of the survey results was indeed timed to draw renewed attention to the franchise fee that takes effect Monday and its impact on hospitals. The fee is set to expire after just one biennial budget cycle, but hospitals fear lawmakers will choose to extend it and possibly make it permanent.
75 hospitals, or just over 50 percent of OHA members, responded to the survey.
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