8 hospitals closed so far this year — here’s why

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/8-hospitals-closed-so-far-this-year-here-s-why.html?origin=cfoe&utm_source=cfoe

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From reimbursement landscape challenges to dwindling patient volumes, many factors lead hospitals to close.

Here are the factors that led eight hospitals to close so far this year:

1. Belmont Community Hospital, a 99-bed hospital in Bellaire, Ohio, closed April 5. Hospital officials cited a decline in patient volume as the reason for the closure. “Utilization of BCH has continued to decline despite efforts to offer varying services at the facility,” the hospital said in a press release. “The decline has place[d] a financial strain on the BCH that cannot be sustained in the long term.”

2. Kentuckiana Medical Center in Clarksville, Ind., closed April 5. The hospital, which opened in 2009, faced financial losses for years and previously filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

3. Horton (Kan.) Community Hospital closed March 12. The 25-bed critical access hospital, owned by Kansas City, Mo.-based EmpowerHMS, shut down after struggling to pay utilities and missing payroll for several weeks. The hospital entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 14.

4. Georgiana (Ala.) Medical Center closed March 8. Ivy Creek Healthcare in Georgiana, which owns the hospital, cited growing costs and cuts to reimbursement as the reasons for the closure.

5. Cumberland River Hospital in Celina, Tenn., closed March 1. In January, officials announcedthat the hospital was shutting down due to financial challenges. They said Cumberland River Hospital had experienced significant losses in recent years due to declining reimbursements and lower patient volumes.

6. Harrisburg, Pa.-based UPMC Pinnacle closed its hospital in Lancaster, Pa., on Feb. 28. The health system announced plans in December to close UPMC Pinnacle Lancaster and transition inpatient services to another one of its hospitals located about 7 miles away. In a Feb. 15 news release, UPMC Pinnacle President and CEO Philip Guarneschelli said consolidating inpatient services on one campus would make care more convenient for patients.

7. Oswego (Kan.) Community Hospital and its two affiliated clinics closed Feb. 14. A statement from the board announcing the closure said the hospital, owned by Kansas City, Mo.-based EmpowerHMS, wasn’t bringing in enough revenue to cover payroll and other expenses. After the abrupt closure, the hospital entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 17.

8. Washington County Hospital in Plymouth, N.C., closed Feb. 14 after missing payroll on Feb. 8. The critical access hospital is now working its way through the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process. The hospital is one of several facilities owned by Kansas City, Mo.-based EmpowerHMS that has entered bankruptcy or closed in recent months. The Washington County Board of Commissioners is working with state and federal agencies to investigate the hospital’s financial and operational issues and working to restore medical services as the hospital, according to a Feb. 19 public service announcement on Washington County’s website.

 

 

Illinois hospital moves to suspend services, gives employees 60-day notice of closing

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/illinois-hospital-moves-to-suspend-services-gives-employees-60-day-notice-of-closing.html

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Citing a staff shortage, Los Angeles-based Pipeline Health announced plans April 9 to suspend services at Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park, Ill. That plan was put on hold after a Cook County Circuit Court judge held that the abrupt closure could have “irreparable harm” to the community, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

In late January, Pipeline acquired Westlake Hospital and two other facilities from Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare. A few weeks after the transaction closed, Pipeline revealed plans to shut down 230-bed Westlake Hospital, citing declining inpatient stays and losses of nearly $2 million a month.

Pipeline said staffing rates have significantly declined in the weeks since it filed the application to close Westlake Hospital.

“Our utmost priority is safety and quality of patient care,” Pipeline Health CEO Jim Edwards said in an April 9 press release. “With declining staffing rates and more attrition expected, a temporary suspension of services is necessary to assure safe and sufficient operations. This action is being taken after considering all alternatives and with the best interest of our patients in mind.”

In addition to announcing the suspension of services, Pipeline also said it gave hospital employees a 60-day notice of closure, which is required by state and federal law.

Pipeline’s plan to immediately suspend services at the hospital was put on hold yesterday evening, when Judge Eve Reilly granted the village of Melrose Park a temporary restraining order to prevent the hospital from closing. The restraining order prevents Pipeline from closing the hospital, cutting services or laying off workers until after the state Health Facilities and Services Review Board considers the application to shut down the hospital on April 30, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The board could postpone the application due a pending lawsuit against Pipeline over the closure, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The village of Melrose Park sued Pipeline in March, alleging Pipeline acquired Westlake Hospital under false pretenses. The lawsuit alleges Pipeline and its owners kept their plans to shut down the hospital secret until after the transaction with Tenet closed to avoid opposition from village leaders and community members.

Pipeline recently filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing its application for change of ownership made no promise to keep Westlake Hospital open and that the hospital’s financial troubles were not fully evident at the time the change of ownership was prepared.

“The complete impact of Westlake’s 2018 devastating net operating loss was not known until the year’s end and had not fully occurred in September 2018 when Pipeline submitted its application for change of ownership or even when that application was granted,” Pipeline said in a press release.

Pipeline said Westlake Hospital ended 2018 with a net operating loss of $14 million, and those losses are projected to worsen over time.

 

9 hospitals with strong finances

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/9-hospitals-with-strong-finances-040819.html?origin=cfoe&utm_source=cfoe

Here are nine hospitals and health systems with strong operational metrics and solid financial positions, according to recent reports from Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings.

1. South Bend, Ind.-based Beacon Health System has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The health system has a strong financial profile, and is the acute care leader in its market, according to Fitch.

2. Los Angeles-based Cedars Sinai Medical Center has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The hospital has a solid market presence in a competitive service area and strong profitability and liquidity, according to Fitch.

3. St. Cloud, Minn.-based CentraCare Health has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The health system has a strong operating risk profile and a leading market position over a broad service area, according to Fitch.

4. Wauwatosa, Wis.-based Children’s Hospital and Health System has an “Aa3” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system has a strong financial profile and is the dominant provider of tertiary and quaternary pediatric services in southeastern Wisconsin, according to Moody’s.

5. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has an “Aa2” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The hospital has a strong market position and exceptional financial resources to support high capital needs, according to Moody’s.

6. Concord (N.H.) Hospital has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The hospital has a strong financial profile and a leading market share position, according to Fitch.

7. Portland-based Oregon Health and Sciences University has an “Aa3” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The health system has solid operating performance, strong clinical offerings and includes the only academic medical center in Oregon, according to Moody’s.

8. Clermont, Fla.-based South Lake Hospital has an “AA-” rating and stable outlook with Fitch. The hospital’s operating performance has improved in recent years due to its partnership with Orlando (Fla.) Health, according to Fitch.

9. Iowa City-based University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics has an “Aa2” rating and stable outlook with Moody’s. The system’s strong brand and position as the only academic medical center in Iowa will continue to translate into strong market share and high patient demand, according to Moody’s.

 

Philadelphia hospital to lay off 175 employees amid financial troubles

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/philadelphia-hospital-to-lay-off-175-employees-amid-financial-troubles.html?origin=cfoe&utm_source=cfoe

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Philadelphia-based Hahnemann University Hospital plans to lay off 175 nurses, support staff and managers as it struggles to keep its doors open, hospital officials told philly.com.

“We are in a life-or-death situation here at Hahnemann,” said Joel Freedman, chairman and founder of American Academic Health System, which bought Hahnemann and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children from Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare in January 2018.

“We’re not Tenet with endless cash. We’re running out of money,” Mr. Freedman added.

He told philly.com Hahnemann won’t stay afloat without help from government, insurers and its academic partner, Philadelphia-based Drexel University.

The layoffs, which represent about 6 percent of Hahnemann’s total workforce of 2,700, reportedly affect 65 nurses, 22 service and technical employees, and 88 nonunion workers and managers.

They come as Hahnemann has struggled financially. The hospital and and St. Christopher’s combined have $600 million to $700 million in annual revenue, compared to $790 million at the time of American Academic Health System’s purchase, according to philly.com.

Mr. Freedman, who is also CEO of healthcare investment firm and American Academic Health System affiliate El Segundo-based Paladin Healthcare, partially attributed the struggles at Hahnemann to a lower volume of patients. He also cited information technology and documentation problems at the hospital.

He expects the layoffs, along with other cost-cutting initiatives, such as the closure of some primary care offices, to save Hahnemann $18 million annually.

Read the full philly.com report here.

 

 

GOP tax law boosts health care profits

https://www.axios.com/newsletters/axios-vitals-1102fe1c-124e-4bbf-9647-ad0efd6392a3.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosvitals&stream=top

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The GOP tax law is padding health care companies’ bottom lines, according to my colleague Bob Herman’s analysis of newly released financial information from the last quarter of 2018. Overall, the industry’s profits were up significantly from the same period a year earlier.

The big picture: The law made it easier to bring home money that was parked abroad. It also eliminated tax provisions that have specifically helped large companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers. But the lower corporate tax rate is the main event.

  • Drug giant Pfizer received a $563 million tax benefit in the fourth quarter, and its corporate income tax rate in all of 2018 was just 6%.
  • Johnson & Johnson’s effective tax rate in the last quarter of 2018 was 2.6%.
  • Almost half of the $551 million tax break recorded by hospital chain HCA Healthcare in 2018 came in the fourth quarter.

Between the lines: The tax law aside, the companies that handle the most revenue — like health insurers collecting premiums or drug distributors shipping products — are not the most profitable.

  • The highest margins still usually belong to pharmaceutical companies and medical-devices.

 

 

 

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital to freeze wages, lay off staff

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/nicklaus-children-s-hospital-to-freeze-wages-lay-off-staff.html

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Miami-based Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is making cutbacks in response to industry pressures, including dwindling reimbursement, according to the Miami Herald.

Nicklaus Children’s executives outlined the cutbacks in a memo to staff obtained by the Miami Herald. The hospital will eliminate pay raises for all employees this year, limit the number of new hires and reduce pension contributions, according to the report.

These cutbacks could create significant savings for Nicklaus Children’s, which has roughly 3,500 workers. Labor costs make up 57 percent of the hospital’s operating expenses, according to the report.

The letter to staff also said it is necessary for Nicklaus Children’s to reduce the size of its workforce to lower operating expenses.

In a written statement to the Miami Herald, a hospital spokesperson said the cutbacks and layoffs will help preserve the hospital’s financial position in the face of several industrywide challenges, including “reductions in reimbursement … a shift from inpatient services to outpatient care, and financial pressures due to rising costs and increased competition.”

Access the full Miami Herald article here.

 

 

Hospital cost containment plateaus, Kaufman Hall reports

https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/hospital-cost-containment-plateaus-kaufman-hall-reports/551173/

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Dive Brief:

  • Hospitals are having a harder time controlling costs through labor and efficiencies and improvement efforts plateaued last year, according to Kaufman Hall’s 2018 National Flash Report. Profitability indicators show that operating margin improved by about 5% compared to 2017.
  • Kaufman Hall, which analyzed more than 600 hospitals, found that volume trends underperformed compared to the previous year. Higher-acuity patients resulted in higher reimbursement per adjusted discharge and adjusted patient day.
  • Drug expenses are one reason for the cost issues. Drug costs increased by about 4% from 2017. Also, bad debt and charity care grew, though at a slower pace at the end of the year. One piece of good news for hospitals is that revenue increased in 2018.

Dive Insight:

Kaufman Hall found that 2018 was generally a year of improvement in regards to profitability. However, volume indicators showed underperformance as discharges continue to drop.

Revenue indicators showed promise, but an ongoing problem is expenses. Hospitals are trying to contain costs by reducing full-time equivalents and bed numbers. However, those savings only go so far and hospitals expect they’ll need to add staff in the coming years. A recent Healthcare Financial Management Association/Navigant survey reported that 78% of hospital CFOs said their organizations’ labor budgets will grow in the coming years, with 18% expecting an increase of more than 5%.

Another factor working against hospitals is drug costs. A recent InCrowd survey found that physicians are pessimistic that those prices will change, with 82% saying it’s unlikely the situation will improve next year.

The Trump administration backs cutting prescription prices as a way to reduce costs. HHS released a proposal in January to end safe harbor protections for drug rebates through pharmacy benefit managers in Medicare Part D and Medicaid managed care plans. Those savings would instead go directly to consumers.

Hospitals have implemented cost-containment strategies, but the report shows there comes a point when hospitals can’t cut anymore. It appears the industry may have reached that point. “Hospitals will need to think more innovatively on how to manage expense,” according to the report.

Kaufman Hall pointed specifically to the West, which experienced “worsening labor efficiency.” Hospitals in this region “need to consider how to employ more advanced approaches to labor management,” the authors wrote.

There are other ways to squeeze dollars out of hospital costs, according to a recent McKinsey & Company report. It estimated that between $1.2 trillion and $2.3 trillion could be saved over the next decade on productivity gains and not expanding the workforce. The report highlighted potential opportunities to improve productivity through efficiency and care coordination.