Top 10 healthcare finance stories of 2019

Physician specialties that generate the most revenue for hospitals, CMS payment rules and hospital closures were among the healthcare finance topics that piqued the interest of readers this year.

Here are the 10 most popular finance stories published by Becker's Hospital Review in 2019:

1. These 10 physician specialties generate the most revenue for hospitals
The amount of revenue physicians generate for hospitals is typically considerably more than their annual salaries, according to a survey by physician staffing firm Merritt Hawkins.

2. A recession is coming: What it could mean for healthcare
More than half of 147 CFOs surveyed by Deloitte believe the U.S. will be in a recession by the end of 2020. What would a recession mean for healthcare? We looked back to the effects of the 2008-09 recession.

3. Hedge fund manager predicts CHS will go bankrupt
Firefly Value Partners Co-Founder and Portfolio Manager Ryan Heslop is bearish on Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems. Mr. Heslop, who was one of several hedge fund managers to present May 6 at the Ira Sohn Investment Conference in New York, announced a short position in CHS during the conference. He said CHS will likely go bankrupt over the next few years due to rising debt costs and dwindling revenue per hospital bed.

4. Ohio hospital to close after 105 years
Belmont Community Hospital, a 99-bed hospital in Bellaire, Ohio, closed in April. "Utilization of BCH has continued to decline despite efforts to offer varying services at the facility," the hospital said in a press release. "The decline has place[d] a financial strain on the BCH that cannot be sustained in the long term."

5. CMS pitches 3 sweeping payment rules for 2020
CMS released three proposed rules on July 29, which included payment updates for outpatient and physician services and expanded price transparency initiatives. The agency finalized its annual Outpatient Prospective Payment System rule and Physician Fee Schedule Nov. 2, and it issued a final rule Nov. 15 that requires hospitals to disclose the rates they negotiate with insurers beginning in 2021.

6. Texas hospital abruptly closes
Van Zandt Regional Medical Center in Grand Saline, Texas, closed Aug. 5. Medicare cutbacks, dwindling reimbursement from insurance companies and a financial burden left by previous management were among the factors that forced the hospital to close.

7. Supreme Court sides with hospitals in multibillion-dollar payment dispute
In an opinion issued June 3, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that HHS improperly failed to undergo formal notice-and-comment rulemaking before announcing a new Medicare rate calculation for disproportionate share payments to hospitals.

8. Nicklaus Children's Hospital to freeze wages, lay off staff
Miami-based Nicklaus Children's Hospital executives outlined several cutbacks the hospital was making in a memo to staff obtained by the Miami Herald in March. The hospital eliminated pay raises for all employees this year, limited the number of new hires, and reduced pension contributions and the size of its workforce.

9. CMS penalizes 2,583 hospitals for high readmissions
As part of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, Medicare is cutting payments to 2,583 hospitals by anywhere from 0.01 percent to the maximum of 3 percent for fiscal year 2020. Fifty-six hospitals face the maximum 3 percent payment cut for every Medicare case during fiscal 2020, which runs Oct. 1 through September 2020.

10. CMS terminates Kentucky hospital's Medicare contract
CMS ended its provider agreement with Southeastern Kentucky Medical Center in Pineville on May 24. In September, First State Bank of the Southeast acquired the hospital and appointed new leadership.  

More articles on healthcare finance:

10 states with the most for-profit hospitals
29 hospital closures, state by state
Texas hospital overbilled Medicare by $10.6M, OIG says

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