Workers leaving, labor spending, drugs, hospital supplies rising

Spending per patient is rising, even taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the AHA.

Healthcare workers are fleeing and costs are rising as the United States continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) said massive spending growth and rising inflation are fueling continued financial challenges for hospitals and health care systems. AHA has published its results in the report “Costs of care” April 25.

Hospital employment is down about 100,000 from pre-pandemic levels according to data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, labor spending per patient increased 19.1% through 2021, compared to 2019 levels, according to the AHA.

“America’s hospitals and health care systems, along with our caregivers, have been on the front lines in the fight against the pandemic for more than two years now, facing many challenges along the way,” said the president and chief. AHA executive Rick Pollack in a press release. “While we have made great progress in the fight against the virus, this report shows that we are not yet off the hook when it comes to meeting the need to repair and rebuild our hospitals.”

Data from Kaufman Hall, a consulting firm that tracks hospital financial metrics, shows that by the end of 2021, total hospital spending was up 11% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Even in accounting for the volume changes that occurred during the pandemic, hospital spending per patient increased significantly from pre-pandemic levels across all categories, according to the AHA.

Median hospital drug spending at the end of 2021 was 28.2% higher than pre-pandemic levels through the end of 2019 and 36.9% higher per patient.

Overall, hospital supply spending was 15.9% higher at the end of 2021 compared to the end of 2019 and 20.6% higher per patient.

“Dramatic increases in labor, drug, supply and equipment costs continue to put enormous pressure on our ability to provide care to our patients and communities,” Pollack said. . “The pandemic has clearly demonstrated that America cannot be strong without strong hospitals and healthcare systems.”

Pollack said the AHA continues to urge Congress to provide additional support for hospitals by:

  • Reverse Harmful Medicare Cuts
  • Vendor Relief Fund Replenishment
  • Provide flexibility on Medicare accelerated and prepayments
  • Extend or make permanent waivers that have improved patient care

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