|By Chris Kardish, Governing|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The study, which provides the most comprehensive view yet of
Uncompensated care cost the country about
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The news comes as others around the country -- from private hospitals to state governments -- are reporting substantial decreases in uncompensated care. For example, a survey of 42 Arkansas hospitals during the first three months of 2014 found a 24-percent drop in uninsured emergency room use and a 30-percent decrease in uninsured hospital admissions, according to Gov.
The money hospitals are saving on uncompensated care is especially crucial as they brace for cuts called for by the ACA.
The cuts were made with the assumption that expanding
"Directionally, the trends have appeared, and I think the magnitude is about what was expected, so it does help cushion some of those DSH shortfalls. But ... we don't know if it makes up for [them]," said
For rural hospitals -- which have a higher percentage of older, poorer and less healthy residents per capita -- the anxiety runs especially high. States that didn't expand
"Even those individuals who finally have that insurance card are finding their plans have such especially high deductibles that they're delaying care, or if they do show up in that emergency room, it's so high that they're not able to pay it, so [hospitals] are still providing a lot of uncompensated care and charity care," she said.
Other questions about hospital financing and the costs of expanding
"With the likely permanent increase in ER use,
But what was once a
"If we are successful in not only providing people with a card but providing people access to care in a meaningful way that helps stabilize their health conditions, absolutely costs will go down in the future," he said.
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