Recent Reports Indicate 2022 Worse Year for Healthcare

21 Mar, 2023 F.J. Thomas

                               

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – While the closure of rural hospitals has been a recent concern, with some estimates predicting closures to hit at around 40 percent for some areas, according to recent reports, it appears all of healthcare across the nation could be in for a bumpy ride for the next couple of years. Between increasing and unsustainable costs paired with worker shortages, and reductions in reimbursement, healthcare is struggling to find a way to stay afloat as evident by recent layoffs and struggles over wage regulation. 

According to a report earlier this month from Becker’s ASC Review, there have been at least 7 major healthcare related layoffs within the last year. Additionally, earlier this month Becker’s reported on 20 hospitals that were closing complete lines of service. One of those closures includes Trinity Health in Muskegon, Michigan that is temporarily closing its 30-bed surgical floor due to staffing shortages. Also included is Singing River Health System located in Ocean Springs, Mississippi that is terming their obstetric services due to a lack of providers. Both of these reports come on the heels of yet another article in February in which Becker’s reported that 27 health systems were cutting jobs. 

According to some estimates, hospital labor expenses have increased 37 percent over what they were prior to the pandemic. In fact, in their updated 2022 report The Current State Of Hospital Finances, Kaufman Hall expects labor expenses to increase by $86 billion, and non-labor expenses to increase by $49 billion. The analysts predict that more than half of the hospitals will report a loss for last year, claiming that year 2022 was the worst year for hospitals since the beginning of the pandemic. 

As of February of this year, Kaufman Hall reports that hospitals are on more stable footing coming into 2023, however the challenges related to staffing still remain. While legislation has been proposed, and actually adopted in some states to limit the costs of healthcare staffing, the road ahead is not necessarily a clear-cut path, according to the health sector of the Kaiser Family Foundation.  

Legislation proposed in at least 12 states offer bills that would limit the pay for travel nurses. Earlier last year, reports indicated that Travel nurses made $71 to $132 an hour, while regularly employed nurses earned $36 to $39 an hour. In some cases, the bonuses for travel nurses were double as an incentive.  

According to the Kaiser report, during the height of the pandemic, some intensive care nurses made $10,000 per week. Additionally, some nurses were offered bonuses as high as $40,000. While the pandemic is over, as of January this year the average weekly pay for a travel nurse is $3,077, which is 20 percent lower than last year but is still 62 percent higher than before the pandemic. 

Legislation proposals to address the disparity has been varied, with the way forward presenting a potential slippery slope. For example, Missouri nurse practitioner Theresa Newbanks asked legislators how they would feel if the government were attempting to dictate how much a lawyer, plumber or electrician could make. Additionally, these laws could impact access to care across state lines. 

 Caught between costs, staffing shortages, and potential legal regulations, hospitals and health systems may have to get creative to retain staff and stay in business. According to the Kaufman report, California is considering a $25 an hour minimum wage for healthcare workers. A hospital in South Carolina is offering their staff day care in order to retain their employees. Additionally, some hospitals have created their own staffing agencies to cut out the middleman and lower costs.  

 

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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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