Colorado issues report on hospital profits; health systems say it's out of date

The back and forth continues.

Colorado authorities produced data to back up claims Governor Jared Polis made this week in his State of the State address that local hospitals are overcharging patients and sitting on significant cash reserves. Hospitals and health systems in the state say the data is old and does not reflect the current strains they are under.

New analyses of Colorado hospital financial data show patient revenues have grown faster than operating expenses, leading to growing profits and margins, according to a report released Jan. 18 by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing. Specifically, hospitals in the state were ranked in the top 10 nationally for such financial metrics in the period from 2018 to 2020.

And therein lies the rub, according to hospital systems and advocacy groups in the state. Such reports and data do not reflect the current situation so many healthcare systems are facing with labor shortages, regulatory burdens and inflationary pressures.

"Half of Colorado hospitals do not have a sustainable margin, which means that their viability is an ongoing concern," Jeff Tieman, CEO of the Colorado Hospital Association, told local NBC affiliate 9News.

Aurora, Colo.-based UCHealth, the largest provider of Medicaid services in Colorado, criticized the report for using old data and defended its allocation of $1.1 billion on financial assistance to the community in fiscal 2022, including $388 million on uncompensated care.

"Stock market ups and downs are not the same as income and do not present an accurate picture of financial health," UCHealth said in an email to 9News. "Like any person or institution that has investments in the market, UCHealth has experienced substantial losses this past year."

The report did acknowledge the difficulties smaller rural hospitals in the state are facing, as well as Colorado's safety net hospital, Denver Health, saying such institutions are up against "mounting headwinds."

"Improvements in policy are needed to ensure hospitals are prioritizing affordability initiatives and how they channel community investments to better meet the needs of the communities they serve," Kim Bimestefer, executive director of HCPF, said in a statement.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars