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New data shows Indiana hospitals struggling financially

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH)– New data shows Indiana hospitals are facing significant financial challenges.

According to a new survey by the Indiana Hospital Association, Hoosier hospitals have racked up nearly $3 billion in losses since last year, and 1/5 of Indiana hospitals have lost 20% or more of their days of cash on hand.

Hospital association members say an unprecedented workforce crisis, skyrocketing costs of drugs, labor, and equipment, and lingering supply shortages, have all had a major impact on the health system over the last year.

Hospitals need workers to continue to provide care, and IHA says that has become a financial strain as well — particularly when it comes to hiring traveling nurses.

Nearly 70% of hospitals have seen travel nurse expenses increase by more than 20%, and that’s while hospitals are also trying to retain staff members they have.

Over half of the hospitals surveyed said they increased salaries and benefits by 15% or more.

The new data also shows that 75% of Indiana hospitals have paid up to 15% more on critical medical supplies like syringes, gloves, and other personal protective equipment.

Brad Smith, the CEO of Rush Memorial Hospital in Rushville, says many hospitals are going to face some tough decisions.

“Some of these people aren’t going to be able to level these numbers. They may be forced to close, or sell, or join a bigger health system, or whatever the case may be. Others have some adequate cash, maybe, to get them through some troubled times, whereas maybe smaller hospitals don’t have that cash to get them through troubled times. There are services that could be stopped, cut off, not provided anymore,” Smith said.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission also projects that the negative margin hospitals experience in Medicare will grow in 2022, the IHA says. In Indiana, 83% of all hospitals have 67% or more of their inpatient days paid by Medicare or Medicaid.