A new report published on the Health Affairs Blog describes the continuing challenges safety-net hospitals face and offers suggestions for helping them meet those challenges.
The challenges, according to the report, are the virtual elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s individual health insurance mandate; the continued decline in the amount of Medicare disproportionate share hospital money (Medicare DSH) provided to safety-net hospitals; and hospital closures that shift more of the burden for caring for uninsured patients onto a smaller pool of safety-net hospitals. The result is under-served patients and new financial risks for the hospitals that remain after some safety-net hospitals close because of the large amounts of uncompensated care those hospitals continue to provide.
To address these challenges, the report offers three potential solutions:
- Congress should revisit the Medicare DSH cuts.
- States should target their DSH money to the hospitals providing the most uncompensated care.
- Non-profit non-safety-net hospitals that stabilize uninsured emergency patients and then direct them to safety-net hospitals should be required to play a longer-term role in the care of such patients as part of their required community benefit or risk losing their tax-exempt status.
Learn more about the challenges safety-net hospitals continue to face and some of the possible solutions to those problems by going here, to the Health Affairs Blog, to see the report “Safety-Net Health Systems at Risk: Who Bears The Burden Of Uncompensated Care?”