Competitive Pressures Buffeting Safety-Net Hospitals

"Caught In The Competitive Crossfire: Safety-Net Providers Balance Margin And Mission In A Profit-Driven Health Care Market" is the title of a paper examining the effects of rising competitive pressures on safety-net hospitals in 12 communities. These facilities are changing their image as safety-net providers and expanding to attract higher-paying privately insured patients. The main factors assailing the hospitals are uninsured and Medicaid patients, according to the paper written by Peter J. Cunningham, a senior fellow at the Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington, D.C., Gloria J. Bazzoli, who is Bon Secours Professor of Health Administration in Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Health Administration in Richmond, Va., and Aaron Katz, senior lecturer and director at the Packard-Gates Population Leadership Program, Department of Health Services, at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The paper was posted online Tuesday as a Web exclusive by the journal Health Affairs and noted online today by the American Hospital Association. (Health Affairs' current July/August issue focuses on health reforms and health issues in China and India. www.healthaffairs.org)

"With financial and competitive pressures in the health system increasing, safety-net providers' ability to maintain viability may depend on the same strategies being used in the private sector to direct available capital toward facility renovation and expansion and to attract a more favorable payer mix among both services and patients," the authors concluded.

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