Thousands of layoffs at hospitals have some pushing for more help

Written by Ben Allen and Radio Pennsylvania | Apr 15, 2014 4:14 AM

(Harrisburg) -- Congress has approved a so-called "doc fix" (for the 17th time), which prevents cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors for another year, and has extended aid for rural hospitals, but some Pennsylvania hospitals are struggling. 

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A recent survey found hospitals across the commonwealth cut nearly 4,000 jobs between February 2013 and February of this year.

And the news for the future isn't good either.

Two-thirds of general acute care hospitals either plan to or have already halted hiring, and about a half could resort to layoffs.

The results come from a survey conducted by the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania.

"We really do need the federal government to approve the Governor's Healthy Pennsylvania plan to offer coverage to uninsured so that they would have the ability to seek services and providers would get paid for those services," says Vice President Paula Bussard.

The Healthy Pennsylvania plan would allow those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line to receive private health insurance with all or nearly all of premiums covered. (Compare Pennsylvania's waiver request to those from other states here).

"There is this new course that we're charting so that people have access to health coverage and hopefully better health. But we can't fill that need if there are further cuts because we have to have that stability to serve our communities and provide the health care they need," says Bussard.

If the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services don't like parts of the Corbett administration's plan, the state can enter negotiations to work out a solution.

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