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Midlands Voices: Hard-hit Nebraska hospitals need federal relief

Midlands Voices: Hard-hit Nebraska hospitals need federal relief

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The Nebraska Hospital Association (NHA) is the influential and unified voice for Nebraska’s hospitals and health systems, providing leadership and resources to enhance the delivery of quality patient care and services to Nebraska communities. When the COVID-19 pandemic cases escalated in our state in March 2020, our hospitals sprang into action to respond to this deadly pandemic. During this crisis our hospitals and health systems continued to work around-the-clock to provide the care that our communities and patients have needed.

Unfortunately, as a result of the impacts of COVID-19 and the recent Direct Health Measures implemented throughout the state, our hospitals have seen a significant decrease in revenues:

  • Emergency visits are down 45%.
  • Inpatient surgeries down nearly 27%.
  • Net inpatient revenue is down 30%.
  • Outpatient surgeries down nearly 70%.
  • Net outpatient revenue is down over 40%.
  • Operating margins are down 33.8%.

Hospitals are also incurring other costs during the pandemic, including drug acquisition and shortage expenses, wage and labor, uncompensated care costs, non-PPE medical supply and equipment expenditures and capital costs. Spending in these areas has largely increased since the start of the pandemic.

Hospitals are economic engines in our state, providing tax revenue for local governments and serving as the largest employer in many communities, significantly contributing to workforce development. Every dollar spent by a hospital produces another $2.29 of economic activity.

The NHA and its member hospitals greatly appreciate the passage by Congress of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act; however, additional support is urgently needed.

In order to make certain that our Nebraska hospitals are able to continue to provide necessary medical treatments and our front-line health care personnel are able to provide top quality patient care, Congress must act quickly to get additional needed resources into the health care system during this unprecedented time.

The NHA strongly urges Congress to include in the next relief package:

  • Additional support for front-line health care personnel. Forgiveness for accelerated payments.
  • Continued health benefits for individuals and families and increasing coverage options for those who are uninsured.
  • Appropriate liability protections to front-line medical providers and facilities.
  • Additional funding for hospitals and health systems.

On behalf of our Nebraska hospitals, the more than 44,000 individuals we employ and the more than 11,000 patients cared for each day in our state, I urge Congress to pass additional legislation to support our hospitals.

Laura J. Redoutey, a Lincoln resident, is president of the Nebraska Hospital Association.

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