Last month, Eric Jordahl, Managing Director of Kaufman Hall’s Treasury and Capital Markets practice, blogged about the dangers of nonprofit healthcare providers’ extremely conservative risk management in today’s uncertain economy.
Healthcare public debt issuance in the first quarter of 2023 was down almost 70 percent compared to the first quarter of 2022. While not the only funding channel for not-for-profit healthcare organizations,
the level of public debt issuance is a bellwether for the ambition of the sector’s capital formation strategies.
While health systems have plenty of reasons to be cautious about credit management right now, it’s important not to underrate the dangers of being too risk averse. As Jordahl puts it: “Retrenchment might be the right risk management choice in times of crisis, but once that crisis moderates that same strategy can quickly become a risk driver.”
The Gist: Given current market conditions, there are a host of good reasons why caution reigns among nonprofit health systems, but this current holding pattern for capital spending endangers their future competitiveness and potentially even their survival.
Nonprofit systems aren’t just at risk of losing a competitive edge to vertically integrated payers, whom the pandemic market treated far more kindly in financial terms, but also to for-profit national systems, like HCA and Tenet, who have been flywheeling strong quarterly results into revamped growth and expansion plans.
Health systems should be wary of becoming stuck on defense while the competition is running up the score.