Affordable Care Act, Sequestration Hit St. Louis Hospitals Hard

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – These are tough and uncertain times if you are an employee at a local hospital as layoffs point to a growing problem for health care in the area.

Back in June, BJC HealthCare cut 160 employees and St. Anthony’s laid off 23. Last month, SSM Health Care cut more than 200 jobs locally.

The President and CEO of the American Hospital Association, Rich Umbdenstock, says part of the blame goes to disappearing federal dollars.

“Since the Affordable Care Act and subsequent actions, hospitals have taken about $250 billion in reductions in their payments,” he said. “Medicare and Medicaid, historically, have already been underpaying at about 90 cents on the dollar, on average, across the country.”

Cuts to Medicare under the Affordable Care Act accounted for about $1.2 billion in St. Louis alone, according to the American Hospital Association. Recent cuts to Medicare as part of sequestration represented a $230 million loss in the area, the group estimates.

Other challenges facing hospitals today include a shift to more outpatient settings, shorter hospital stays, and a decline in elective surgeries and emergency room services.

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