Minnesota Hospitals Reduce Charity Care, Increase Profits

30 Sep

Mat Keller headshot

By Mathew Keller RN JD, Regulatory and Policy Nursing Specialist

We all knew big insurers would benefit as more individuals sign up for health insurance under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. What is surprising to me, at least, is just how much Minnesota hospitals are profiting as well.

In the latest sign of sickness in the corporate healthcare world, the Minnesota Department of Health reports that our hospitals have reduced the amount of charity care they provide to our sickest and poorest citizens by 22.4 percent.

Much of this decrease is driven by a sharp increase in the number of patients with health insurance across the state — up to 94.1 percent, an all-time high.

Hospitals, as they reduce their charitable care, should pass those cost savings on to their patients and communities. They should allow more patients to qualify for charitable care. They should increase the quality of care they provide through appropriate nurse staffing. They should engage their communities in public health outreach.

Instead, our non-profit hospitals are pocketing the money, giving it out as bonuses, spending it on advertising and branding, building the latest and greatest waterfall in the lobby. Enough is enough.

Charitable care forms the backbone of our societal contract with our non-profit hospitals — we grant them tax exemptions, and in return, we expect that they will strive to help the sickest and poorest among us in a charitable manner. It might be time to re-examine that contract.

 

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