A new analysis concludes that in 2007, Iowa hospitals were not compensated for nearly a billion dollars worth of care and services. The Iowa Hospital Association analysis took into account unpaid hospital bills, charity care, and free hospital services like counseling, vaccination clinics or diet advice.
“There has been some question about the community benefit of hospitals,” says Scott McIntyre of the Iowa Hospital Association. “The reality is that hospitals receive their tax-break, in part, because of the community benefit they’re expected to provide to their communities….and this is an attempt to answer that question.”
About 200-million dollars of that nearly-billion-dollar total is the amount Iowa hospitals say the federal government has shorted them by failing to pay the full cost of care for Medicare and Medicaid patients. “We would like our hospitals to receive full payment for those services,” McIntyre says. “But these other services — the nutritional, the shots, those kind of services — that’s part of doing business and in the long run a lot of those services save money because they get people into treatment early, they prevent and treat chronic disuse — those kinds of things — so the hospitals look at those and see those as wise investments.”
Iowa has 117, not-for-profit hospitals.
Here’s a breakdown on what the Iowa Hospital Association classified as the “community benefits” from Iowa hospitals in 2007:
Charity care — $328 million
Bad debt (unpaid bills) — $284 million
Medicaid shortfall — $147 million
Medicare shortfall — $85 million
Community Services — $103 million
Total — $952 million