KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Hospital Jobs Hurt In Some Places, Expand In Others, As Recession Pinches

Los Angeles Times: Although some hospitals are feeling the pinch of the recession on their budgets, 400 low-income and unemployed residents are receiving job-training and placement at local hospitals to tap into the need for workers. "The Youth Policy Institute, a local nonprofit managing the program, opened its doors to applicants in March and has already enrolled about 400 trainees. There is room for 1,200 participants total. … The project is funded by $3.6 million in federal stimulus money and $2.4 million in state and local grants. The Youth Policy Institute is one of eight organizations in California and 55 nationwide to receive the federal funds designated for job training in healthcare and other high growth industries" (Gorman, 7/19).

The Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal: Not all facilities are having such good fortune. "As the recession lingers, diminished resources are forcing recipients and providers of health care services to do more with less. Or, in some cases, to do without. … Data from the American Hospitals Association shows hospitals, the largest component of the health care sector, support one of every nine jobs in the U.S. Nevada lost 1,000 jobs in the health services industry from April to May of this year." Some Nevada hospitals say they are seeing fewer patients as well. "Washoe County and Carson City acute care hospitals saw 56,402 and 56,458 inpatient admissions in 2008 and 2009, according to University of Nevada, Las Vegas Center for Health Information Analysis. In 2007, before the recession, inpatient admissions totaled 63,027. Inpatient admissions also dropped in each quarter of 2009 at these same hospitals, which together have more than 5,000 beds." Fewer patients often means less money for hospitals (Lapoint, 7/17).

The (Nashville) Tennessean: Nashville's Vanguard Health Systems has bought the biggest charity hospital in Detroit, raising "more than a few eyebrows. … Vanguard's purchase seems an improbable match - at least it would be in any other year. This year, however, health-care reform's promise of extending insurance to 32 million currently uninsured Americans, the loosening of credit markets and a greater willingness by nonprofit hospital systems to consider partnerships or outright sales to for-profit companies have created a perfect storm for hospital deals, with much of the acquisition activity launched from Nashville. The Vanguard deal stands as the biggest hospital acquisition so far this year, but it's one among 50 hospital transactions that have been initiated since January, putting 2010 on track to exceed the total number of hospital deals in any year in almost a decade." The trend, analysts say, is similar to what happened with for-profit companies acquiring other hospitals in the mid-1990s when a drive for "efficiency and market power" drove the market that way, one analyst said (Wadhwani, 7/18). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.