2007-02-16 / Community

Hospital Association: Losing Money For Eighth Year

For the eighth consecutive year, New York State's hospitals, lost money in 2005, bringing total hospital losses to $2.4 billion since 1998, a recent Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) analysis has found.

That fact has led Governor George Pataki to assemble a commission to look at hospital costs and to make recommendations. That commission is expected to report in early December. Their report is widely expected to impact both of Rockaway's Hospitals, Peninsula Hospital Center and St. John's Episcopal Hospital.

At the same time, Borough President Helen Marshall called this week for a new, centrally-located hospital in Rockaway that would draw top doctors in medical specialties such as cancer, orthopedics and cardiac care.

Overall, the state's 217 hospitals lost $95.4 million in 2005, representing an operating margin of minus 0.2%. New York now ranks 49th in the nation when compared to hospital operating margins in the rest of the country, which average a positive 3.7%. In fact, only three other states, Nevada, Mississippi, and Alaska posted negative overall margins.

"Hospitals in virtually the entire nation outside of New York are experiencing positive margins averaging nearly 4%, enabling them to invest in the technology, staff, and other resources hospitals need to modernize and provide state-of-the-art care," HANYS President Daniel Sisto said. "In comparison, New York's hospital infrastructure is among the oldest in the nation, and our hospitals are struggling to recruit and retain skilled practitioners, triggering significant physician shortages in most areas of the state."

"It's hard to claim New York as the Empire State when hospitals in 48 other states are better financed and therefore have more resources to keep pace with the non-stop advancements in technology and patient care," Sisto said.

The new findings are based on a study of financial statements for 2005 provided by 217 not-for-profit hospitals across the state. Among the most significant trends were:

Fifty-six percent, or 122, of the state's hospitals are either losing money, breaking even, or operating in a precarious fiscal situation with positive financial margins of 1% or less.

Nearly nine out of ten hospitals failed to meet the 4% operating margin that economists recommend for not-for-profit organizations to be able to re-invest in their facilities and update their services.

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