Oregon hospitals will 'struggle to remain sustainable' if losses continue, leader says

Oregon hospitals are in one of the worst overall financial positions in decades and will struggle to remain sustainable if losses continue.

That's according to the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, which recently shared results from a new Apprise Health Insights report.

The report on calendar year 2022 financial results found that Oregon hospitals lost money on operations every month last year. 

It also found that expenses have outpaced revenues for more than two years, or nine consecutive quarters, with a combined total loss of $382 million for the year solely from operations. 

Additionally, hospitals' median operating margin, which includes federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding, declined from 3.2 percent in 2021 to -2.7 percent in 2022.

"After two years of losses, hospitals are facing extraordinarily difficult choices," Becky Hultberg, OAHHS president and CEO, said in an April 4 news release. "Organizations will struggle to remain sustainable in this type of environment."

OAHHS said rising expenses, workforce shortages and stalled revenue have all negatively affected hospitals, in addition to the inability to safely discharge patients to other settings.

Amid these circumstances, OAHHS has proposed legislation that it says will help address healthcare workforce shortages, exempt certain labor costs from Oregon's cost-growth target and create a task force to explore ways to increase capacity in nonhospital care settings.

"These record losses should create a sense of urgency for legislators to act," Ms. Hultberg said. "Economists are predicting 2023 will also be a difficult year for hospitals. We can't sit back and do nothing, waiting for things to improve."

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