Cleveland Clinic Charity Care Spending Drops 40%

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Northeast Ohio's hospitals have historically spent millions of dollars annually providing free care to the poor. But there are signs that's declining.

Charity care spending - or the cost of free care provided by the Cleveland Clinic - was $101 million in 2014. That's compared with $171 million in 2013, according to its audited financial report.

This revelation that the state's largest health system had a 40 percent drop in charity care makes sense, says Ohio Hospital Association Spokesperson John Palmer.

As a result of the Affordable Care Act, Ohio is one of dozens of state's nationally to expand Medicaid, which is government-funded health care for the poor.

"Now that you're starting to see that shift from uninsured or underserved on over into health care programs such as Medicaid and the exchange. That has had a good impact and, obviously, it is reflective of what hospitals are experiencing with uncompensated care," Palmer says.

Via e-mail, the Clinic noted that the shift from free care to Medicaid "has been good for patients because now they are insured" and "can go anywhere they need."

That shift has also been good for the Clinic - and will be for other hospitals. Medicaid coverage for the poor means getting paid for patients who couldn't pay previously.

Several weeks ago - in an unrelated report - the Clinic announced operating income increased 60 percent to $466 million in 2014 compared with 2013. The Clinic reported of $6.7 billion in revenues for last year.


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