Colorado hospital margins 49% below pre-pandemic levels

Colorado hospitals' operating margins have dropped 49 percent below 2019 levels, with most hospitals in the state operating under "unsustainable financial situations," according to data published by the Colorado Hospital Association. 

Three things to know: 

1. Colorado hospitals have incurred significant losses relative to pre-pandemic levels — about $1.8 billion through August 2022, according to the report. 

2. Total expenses in 2022 for Colorado hospitals are 21 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels, with staffing costs up more than 26 percent. The rising costs of supplies and staffing have contributed to a $2 billion increase in total expenses. 

3. Hospital discharges and inpatient surgeries have decreased since 2019 and patient length of stays are increasing, indicating that patients have more severe health needs than before the pandemic. Staffing shortages and the closure of post-acute care facilities means that hospitals are caring for patients longer, leading to higher expenses, according to the report.

"Almost three years into the pandemic, hospitals continue to meet their missions and provide life-saving, accessible care for patients and communities," Jeff Tieman, CHA president and CEO, said in a Jan. 11 news release. "At the same time, they are managing staff constraints, financial pressures and growing regulatory burden. In addition to their financial distress, hospitals continue to implement 17 major state and federal healthcare reforms adopted over the last few years."

Editor's note: CHA data reflects a pre-pandemic 2019 baseline through Aug. 2022.

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