Eight States with Hospital Bed Shortfalls


Patients insured through Medicare or Medicaid in rural and medically underserved parts of the country may find themselves having trouble getting timely care at health care facilities, according to a study by Oxford Outcomes.

A section of the Affordable Care Act blocks the new construction or expansion of physician-owned hospitals (POHs) in California, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington and West Virginia. The study looked at hospital access in 46 counties with one or more physician-owned hospitals and more than half (56%) had hospital bed capacity below the national average.

"Blocking physician owned hospital growth is detrimental to the very healthcare system, and most importantly, the people, that the Affordable Care Act is designed to help,” Dr. Michael Russell, President of Physician Hospitals of America (PHA) said in a statement. “What this means for the patient is an increased wait time for appointments, bed shortages and a higher patient-to-doctor ratio in short, a serious decrease in the quality of medical care."

The study found that counties with hospital bed capacities below the state and national aver were often home to at least one physician-owned hospital. These POHs reduce stress on larger hospitals so that patients don’t have to be transferred too far.

According to John E. Schneider, Ph.D. and senior director of Health Economics for Oxford Outcomes, POHs will be more needed in the years to come as millions of people will be added to the health care system because of the Affordable Care Act.

"The reductions forced by Section 6001 will increase strain on healthcare facilities in such parts of the country that exhibit strong growth and a below average patient capacity," he said.

The study revealed that at least 30 projects were abandoned and expansions on 47 hospitals were halted as a result of this section of the Affordable Care Act.

"These facilities could have provided care for 300,000 patients,” Russell said. “With 30 million additional patients entering the insurance rolls, this country needs more high-performing hospitals -- not fewer."

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