Delaware hospitals deliver high-quality care and value. Here's how
Special to the USA TODAY Network
As the new president and CEO of the Delaware Healthcare Association, I’m excited for the opportunity to lead an organization whose hospital members are focused on delivering high-quality, high-value care. Delaware’s healthcare landscape is evolving rapidly and I’m committed to working with our members, stakeholders and policymakers to face the challenges that our healthcare systems are experiencing together as we put the health and well-being of our communities first.
Delivering safe, quality care is the top priority for Delaware hospitals, and it shows. U.S. News & World Report ranked Delaware third in the nation for hospital quality. The First State is home to some of the nation’s best hospitals, including those among the top 1% of hospitals nationally, according to Healthgrades America’s 100 Best Hospitals TM.
Delaware is unique in that every general acute care and pediatric hospital is a nonprofit organization. In the absence of a government-run hospital, Delaware’s hospitals serve as a much-needed safety net, treating all patients who enter their doors regardless of their ability to pay. This and other community benefits are integral to the mission of nonprofit healthcare organizations and are the basis of their tax-exempt status. Ernst & Young reports that for every dollar hospitals receive in nonprofit tax exemption, nine dollars of community benefit are provided in return.
Delaware hospitals contributed nearly $1 billion statewide in community benefit spending in the last reporting year. This includes over $775 million in unpaid patient care ranging from charity care to losses on government-sponsored health insurance. Medicare and Medicaid account for more than 60% of all the care hospitals provide, but reimbursements from these government programs do not fully cover the cost of care.
Community benefits also include programs to help improve the health and well-being of our communities. These programs focus on the greatest areas of need, such as primary care, behavioral health, and addressing social drivers of health. Examples include graduate medical education programs at each health system to train and retain doctors here in Delaware; mobile health clinics launched by Bayhealth, Beebe Healthcare, TidalHealth and ChristianaCare to reach the underserved in Sussex County; ChristianaCare and Nemours expanding School Based Wellness Centers to elementary schools to increase access to care; and Saint Francis Hospital’s Healthy Village that aims to address social drivers of health.
Hospitals have faced historic financial challenges since the start of the pandemic primarily due to skyrocketing expenses. Historically high labor expenses in particular are negatively impacting hospital operating margins, which put nonprofit hospital missions of service to their communities at risk. Workforce challenges persist as our members are doing everything possible to recruit and retain doctors, nurses, and other providers to the First State.
We recognize that healthcare costs can be a burden to those with significant medical needs. With the rise of high deductible health insurance plans, many are facing increased out of pocket costs for their care. Delaware hospitals are committed to transparency and providing the information patients need to make informed decisions about their care. Hospitals also want to help reduce medical debt and protect patients from unfair debt collection practices, which is why we supported legislation passed this year by the Delaware General Assembly to do just that.
The Delaware Healthcare Association will continue to lead efforts to help Delawareans reach optimal health and we stand ready to work collaboratively to advance this shared goal.
Brian Frazee is president and CEO of the Delaware Healthcare Association.
To read the full article, visit: https://www.delawareonline.com/story/opinion/2023/10/19/delaware-hospitals-deliver-high-quality-care-and-value/71231137007/