Majority of Colorado hospital systems lost money in 2022 as costs surged, stock market tanked

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Colorado hospitals as a whole remained financially healthy through the first two years of the pandemic, but their profit margins were slashed in half in 2022 as costs swelled, pushing the majority of the state’s hospital systems into the red by the fall.

Breaking even or losing money for a year or two might not spell disaster for hospitals, particularly for systems that built up reserves before COVID-19 hit. But an inability to turn at least a small profit over the longer term could lead to layoffs, reduced health services or even hospitals closing.

St. Vincent Hospital in Leadville came close to shutting down last year, before an infusion of state and local funds pulled it from the brink. Health systems such as Banner Health and CommonSpirit Health — which owns the Catholic hospitals under the Centura partnership, including St. Anthony in Lakewood — lost money treating patients in the first nine months of 2022.

And Denver Health’s loss of $34 million last year, and the fact it had less than 90 days’ cash on hand, led state legislators to approve what was considered an “extraordinary” emergency appropriation of $5 million last month to stabilize the city’s safety-net hospital.

“It’s staggering. It feels like a punch in the gut,” Julie Lonborg, spokeswoman for the Colorado Hospital Association, said of the financial hit the state’s hospitals took in 2022.

RELATED: Colorado hospital leaders see continuing financial challenges in 2023: “We’re not out of the woods”

State officials see last year as an anomaly after a long stretch of profitability, while hospital leaders argue it was one more blow to a sector battered by the pandemic and employee burnout. They don’t necessarily disagree on the numbers so much as what those numbers mean — and what “rainy day” funds are meant to do.

Revenue from treating patients …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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