Faced with mounting debt and looming costs from the new federal health care law, many local governments are leaving the hospital business, shedding public facilities that can be the caregiver of last resort, says the Wall Street Journal.
More than a fifth of the nation's 5,000 hospitals are owned by governments and many are drowning in debt caused by rising health care costs, a spike in uninsured patients, cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and payments on construction bonds sold in fatter times. Because most public hospitals tend to be solo operations, they don't enjoy the economies of scale, or more generous insurance contracts, which bolster revenue at many larger nonprofit and for-profit systems.
Local officials also predict an expensive future as new requirements -- for technology, quality accounting and care coordination -- start under the overhaul, which became law in March.
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