Blue Island, Illinois, is the home of St. Francis Hospital, which will be shutting its doors in about four months. Phil Kadner of The SouthTown Star examines the way that this small town hospital's plight mirrors the overall breakdown in health care across the United States:
Executives for its corporate parent, SSM Health Care, said the company couldn't even give the hospital away when it offered to assume its $40 million debt.What happened is a litany of woes all to familiar to those of us who write about health care issues. First amongst the issues is the constant refrain of financial strain. Cost of care once again rears its ugly head.
Medicaid reimbursements, which pay for medical care for the poor, haven't been increasedin Illinois in 15 years. At St. Francis, officials claim that means they get back about 11 cents for every $1 they spend.He goes on to cite a variety of problems, boiling the abstract down to the concrete with St. Francis as the practical illustration. Reimbursement rates, astronomical and no standardized administrative fees, non standardized bookkeeping and accounting practices, and more.
Vince Pryor, the chief financial officer at Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey, which likely is to get many of the patients that used to go to St. Francis, estimated his hospital gets about 18 cents back on the dollar from Medicaid.
But even at those meager reimbursement rates, the state has not sent Medicaid payments to hospitals since November.
400, 000 hospital visits per year will now be going to other emergency rooms in the area, a fact which illustrates the regional impact of this closure. Go take a look at the article. If we don't reform American health care it could presage things to come...
SOURCE:"Health care problem explodes right here" 04/01/08
photo courtesy of reivax, used under this Creative Commons license