Fitch issues negative outlook for nonprofit hospitals: 4 things to know

Fitch Ratings' outlook on the nonprofit healthcare sector is negative for 2018, as the sector faces regulatory, political and competitive challenges.

Here are four things to know about Fitch's outlook on the sector.

1. Fitch expects nonprofit hospitals and health systems' profitability to continue to weaken over the next year. "Growth in Medicare and Medicaid volumes are weakening provider payer mixes at a time when providers are moving from volume-based reimbursement in greater numbers," said Fitch Senior Director Kevin Holloran.

2. Fitch said several factors could adversely affect lower-rated hospitals' operating performance in 2018, including growing pressure on salaries and continued erosion in payer mix.

3. The proposed tax overhaul bill, which would hamper nonprofit hospitals' ability to issue tax-exempt revenue, could further pressure the industry, according to Fitch.

4. Although the nonprofit healthcare sector outlook is negative, Fitch maintained its stable outlook for ratings of healthcare issuers. "Fitch anticipates our revised criteria for the acute care sector will be published early next year, which should lead to an above-average, but still balanced, degree of rating movement during the year," the debt rating agency said.

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