Hospital finances continue to struggle, tis the season to mask up

December 13, 2022

WSHA held a media briefing this week detailing the results of our third quarter financial survey of Washington State hospitals. The dire financial situation in our states’ hospitals has continued to worsen during the year. Hospital and health system losses grew to $2.57 billion in the first nine months of 2022, with almost $1.66 billion in losses from operations. We expect hospitals will face continued losses during the last quarter of 2022 and into 2023.

These losses are due to low Medicaid reimbursement rates, inflation that outpaces payment rates, increasing staffing costs, complex patients whose costs are higher than reimbursements, an increasing number of patients no longer in need of hospital care but unable to be discharged and discontinued federal pandemic funding.

These losses are not sustainable and are impacting hospital and health system capacity. There will be long-term impacts on the availability of health care services to patients and communities if we do not address these financial losses. In fact, many hospitals are already reducing some services to cut costs and sustain the most critical services.

We are looking to the Legislature for support in 2023, asking for increased Medicaid payment rates, increased funding for complex, long-term patients, payments for hospitals for patients who quality for Medicaid home and community services and an adjustment to the administrative day rate for those who are eligible for skilled nursing services, assurance that Medicaid patients subject to guardianship proceedings can be discharged to appropriate long-term care settings while waiting for a guardian to be appointed; and development and funding of new behavioral health 23-hour crisis receiving centers.

Members of the public can help by staying healthy and avoiding preventable illness. The easiest way to do this is to stay up to date on your vaccinations and wear a mask while indoors with others from outside your household. This is due to the spread of the flu, RSV, COVID and other seasonal illnesses. If you’re sick, please stay home. Local health leaders issued a joint statement this month encouraging these common-sense practices to stay healthy.


Beth Zborowski
WSHA Senior Vice President of Membership Engagement and Communications


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