A new survey finds Iowa hospitals were not paid for over $1 billion worth of the patient care they delivered in 2009.

A survey from the Iowa Hospital Association shows the amount of charity care combined with unpaid bills that were written off increased by 12 percent last year, to nearly $800 million. Scott McIntyre of the Iowa Hospital Association says on top of that, hospitals provided $310 million in care to Medicare and Medicaid patients that was not reimbursed by the state or federal government.

“Medicare and Medicaid failed to provide hospitals, overall, in this state their cost of providing care to people who are covered by those programs,” McIntyre says.

The Iowa Hospital Association survey of the 118 community hospitals in Iowa found those institutions provided nearly $147 million worth of free or reduced-price health screenings, counseling, immunizations and other services to patients in 2009. McIntyre combines that amount, along with the uncompensated care, and estimates that the “community benefits” from Iowa hospitals surpassed $1.2 billion in 2009. 

McIntyre says the state’s hospitals have “weathered” the economic downturn “pretty well.”

“This is not a short-term thing.  It’s been going on for almost close to three years now, even more,” he says.  “And so we have seen some hiring freezes.  We have seen lower salary increases than what we’d seen in the past. We have seen some isolated layoffs and that kind of thing, but even those have turned around.” 

All of the 118 community hospitals in Iowa participated in the association’s survey. Medicare and Medicaid payments account for about 60 percent of hospital revenue in Iowa according to the survey.  Iowa hospitals have a more than $ 6 billion impact on the state’s economy according to the Iowa Hospital Association.  More than 74,000 people work in Iowa hospitals.