Closure of Safety Net Hospitals on Public Health:
Throughout the history of health care in the United States, there has been a huge increase in the number of hospitals. For instance, the country experienced an increase in the number of hospitals from 178 in 1873 to 7,200 by 1970. Modern hospitals are characterized with relatively complex organizational structures since they are multi-faceted businesses with different chains of command including various departments, lines of authority and responsibility, and committees.
Despite of the increase in the number of hospitals, America has also experienced hospital closures since 1980 of approximately 1,500 hospitals and a 33% decrease in-patient days. The closures have included registered, state and local government, non-governmental, and investor-owned hospitals that will result in the eventual reduction of the number of these facilities to 4,500.
Safety net hospitals serve as the bedrock of America’s national health insurance system whose main mission is to save people’s lives and safeguard the fabric of communities. The closures of many American safety net hospitals is attributed to simple economics since they rely on public funds resulting in numerous challenges as all governmental levels are looking to cut budgets. This results in huge financial crises for the hospitals such as Grady Memorial Hospital that had a debt of $71 million owed to Emory University and Morehouse School of Medicine (Dewan & Sack, 2008). The main impact of the closures of safety net hospitals on public health is that it contributes to reduced access to patients’ health care services. Patients are no longer able to access care services or are forced to travel long distances to access the services due to the closure of safety net hospitals. In such instances, there is a likelihood of the increase in the number of deaths related to illnesses, inaccessibility and long travels for care services present numerous health challenges to patients.
Impact of Economic Recession on Safety Net Providers:
Economic recession contributed to the increase in the demands on health care safety net as many Americans lost health insurance and jobs. This has had mixed and less severe effects on safety net providers initially and more than anticipated in certain situations. Prior to the economic recession, numerous safety net providers were treating an increased number of uninsured patients who were experiencing strict state and local funding. It’s reported that many safety net providers haven’t felt the complete impact of the recent economic recession because they have adopted strategies that enable them to remain financially viable.
Despite of these efforts towards financial viability, the recent economic recession had a major effect on safety net providers. One of the major impacts is that the recession exerted greater pressure on these providers as many people were seeking free or lessened-cost care (Felland et. al., 2010). Secondly, the recent economic recession made safety net providers to experience considerable and increasing financial pressures and crises. The final impact of the recession is that it has forced these providers to adopt different strategies for financial viability.
Impact of Health Reform on the State:
The recent health care reforms have had a huge impact on health insurance policies and strategies across many states in America. In New Jersey, the reforms basically deal with the accessibility, affordability, and pricing options of health insurance based on the particular individual. The main impact of health care reforms on the state is that it has increased insurance options for individuals through public, private, and community programs that suit the person’s specific needs (“Find Insurance Options,” n.d.). Some of the options the reforms have provided including accessing insurance through work, individuals and families plans, pre-existing medical condition plans, Medicaid, and other affordable care plans.
Dewan, S. & Sack, K. (2008, January 8). A Safety-Net Hospital Falls Into Financial Crisis.
Retrieved February 28, 2012, from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/08/us/08grady.html?pagewanted=1
Felland et. al. (2010, January). The Economic Recession: Early Impacts on Health Care Safety
Net Providers. Retrieved February 28, 2012, from http://www.rwjf.org/files/research/55109.pdf
“Find Insurance Options.” (n.d.). HealthCare.gov: Take Health Care into Your Own Hands.
Retrieved from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website: http://finder.healthcare.gov/about_me/results?utf8=%E2%9C%93&state=NJ&audience=hthy&nojs=n&situation=need&age=3&medical_condition=y&special_need=y&no_afford=y&x=25&y=23
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