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Health Care Reform May Help Hospitals

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Health care reform will give tens of millions more people the ability to pay for treatment. But the CEO of San Diego's Scripps Health says he's not sure if that will help hospital bottom lines.

— Health care reform will give tens of millions more people the ability to pay for treatment. But the CEO of San Diego's Scripps Health says he's not sure if that will help hospital bottom lines.

The uninsured are a big financial problem for hospital emergency rooms, which are required to treat people whether or not the patients can pay. That means hospitals either lose money or pass it on in higher costs to paying customers.

Increased health insurance coverage should improve that situation. But Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder said it will depend on who's providing coverage. He said, for instance, Medicare and Medi-Cal pay less than the cost of service, and Scripps lost $137 million treating Medicare patients last year.

"And we lost $55 million taking care of Medi-Cal patients. So if the expansion of insurance means it's an expansion of Medicare or MediCal, that might not help us at all," said Van Gorder.

He added that health care reform will be a marathon, not a sprint, and we just got started.

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