The cost of doing nothing

While reading the paper over the weekend we read an article in the New York Times that reminded us of the cost of doing nothing to end homelessness. The article was entitled “Two Cities, Two Besieged Hospitals, Two Startlingly Different Results“.Imagine if you will what we could do with $715 million a year to end homelessness in New Jersey? The secondary benefit would be a reduction in the uninsured and those using the emergency room as a primary care facility.

New Jersey and Washington are the only states that require hospitals to provide Charity Care, or to treat patients regardless of their ability to pay. Under the Charity Care program, hospitals can draw from a state-financed pool of money – this year about $715 million – to reimburse costs associated with caring for the poor. But the report found that public insurance reimbursements cover only about 70 cents of every dollar spent by the hospital, and sometimes as low as 22 cents to the dollar, Ms. Ryan said. (Betsy Ryan, president-elect of the New Jersey Hospital Association)

Those reimbursements are particularly significant in New Jersey where about
1.3 million of the state’s 8 million residents are without health insurance, including 250,000 children.

“Until the state addresses that hospitals are losing money on every Medicaid and Charity Care patient we treat, hospitals will continue to struggle,” she said.