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PA Hospital Employment Drops, Survey Shows Cuts in Services And Jobs—Hospitals Urge Stability to Protect Access to Care

March 26, 2014

Hospital jobs, services, and capital projects are at risk according to recent data from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry and a survey conducted this month by The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP).             

Labor & Industry hospital employment statistics show that hospitals shed 3,900 jobs in the past year (February 2014 as compared to February 2013).   

HAP’s survey of general acute care hospitals finds that many hospitals have, or plan to, freeze hiring (67%), lay off current staff (49%), cancel or delay needed renovation or building projects (51%), and cut health care services (41%).  Survey responses included 104 (63%) of the state’s 164 general acute care hospitals             

“Pennsylvania hospitals confront a changing and uncertain health care environment, mounting federal payment cuts, and an economy that is still struggling,” said Andy Carter, HAP President and CEO.   

“As hospitals work to transform the delivery system, they need stability in federal Medicare and Medicaid payments in order to make needed improvements without jeopardizing Pennsylvanians’ access to health care,” said Carter.             

Successive waves of federal budgetary actions have reduced hospital payments since 2010. More recently, from 2013 through the end of 2014, Pennsylvania hospitals will have had their Medicare payments cut by about $800 million. Pennsylvania hospitals are expected to lose nearly $10 billion over the next decade.   

In addition, two Medicare policies (the Medicare-Dependent Small Rural Hospital program and Low-Volume Hospital Adjustment) crucial to the fiscal viability of Pennsylvania’s rural hospitals are set to expire on March 31, 2014.             

Carter urged Congress to extend support for rural hospitals and cautioned federal lawmakers not to use hospital payment cuts to fund much-needed reforms to the Sustainable Growth Rate, the dysfunctional formula that sets Medicare physician payments. “Hospitals simply cannot afford any more payment reductions,” said Carter.             

Carter noted that the Corbett Administration’s proposed 2014–2015 state budget takes important steps toward providing hospitals with stability and predictability from a state fiscal perspective.   

“We urge state lawmakers to preserve and protect hospital payments in the upcoming budget,” said Carter. He also called on the federal government to approve Pennsylvania’s Healthy PA waiver to increase access to health insurance for low-income, uninsured Pennsylvanians.

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