Hospitals show they can curb costs

Hospitals in one state want to make things very clear – they’re not on the hook for the rise in healthcare costs. According to an article in the Boston Globe, hospitals in Massachusetts have issued a new report showing they have slowed their rise in costs. Their hope is to avoid cost controls being considered by the state legislature.

Lynn Nicholas, president of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, said politicians and policy makers propose solutions based on outdated numbers about rising hospital costs, which have since “mitigated substantially.’’ According to the group’s analysis, between 2004 and 2008, hospital operating expenses grew at an average annual rate of 8.6 percent.

But since then, Nicholas said, hospitals have voluntarily cut the rate of increase to 3 percent a year, through cutting workers and pay, canceling holiday parties, and consolidating services. The association said emergency room visits also have begun to slow, partly because of hospitals’ efforts to reduce unnecessary visits and insurers charging higher deductibles that discourage emergency room use.

The belt-tightening cut overall hospital expense growth by $3.1 billion, the group said, compared to what it would have been if past trends had continued. “The world has changed dramatically since 2008,’’ Nicholas said. “There have been many new pressures and many new initiatives.’’

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