Oct 3, 2019

Hospitals are getting into the housing business

Hospitals have discovered that it's not only better for patients' health if they have somewhere to live, but it's also often cheaper for the hospital to provide housing than a long inpatient stay, USA Today reports with Kaiser Health News.

The big picture: Hospitals across the country are looking at ways to address homelessness, including building their own housing units.

  • Recent policy changes have encouraged hospitals to use charity funding for housing.
  • While current law bars hospitals from directly paying Medicaid enrollees' rent, the Trump administration is considering changing that, as Modern Healthcare has reported.

Details: Hospitals legally can't discharge patients if they have no safe place to go, which leads to patients staying in the hospital long after they've stopped needing care.

  • That means the patient is occupying a hospital bed — while generating no income for the hospital — that could be used for other patients.
  • For many hospitals, it's cheaper to provide a month of housing than to keep a patient for one night.

The bottom line: Investing in social determinants of health — like housing, nutrition and transportation — will undoubtedly save society money. It's more likely to happen if it also is profitable for the health care industry.

Go deeper: Why Kaiser Permanente is investing in housing

Go deeper

The dark side of psychiatric hospitals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Psychiatric hospitals are often the last resort for people suffering from mental illness, but recent news stories serve as a reminder that too often, these hospitals aren't the safe haven they should be.

The big picture: There are plenty of horror stories about mental health patients caught in abusive or predatory situations, but experts say there's really no good data on the quality or safety of psychiatric inpatient facilities, making it difficult to hold them accountable.

Go deeperArrowOct 17, 2019

Small and large hospitals continue merger race

Anne Arundel Medical Center in Maryland is merging with a local hospital. Photo: Anne Arundel Medical Center

The hospital industry isn't just consolidating among the titans. Deals are happening frequently at the local level, too.

Why it matters: Smaller hospital deals are just as important as large system mergers because local market power is paramount in health care — people usually get care close to where they live. A combined entity reduces competition, which could give it the upper hand in negotiations with commercial health insurers in its area.

Go deeperArrowOct 4, 2019

Hospitals lobbying to change Medicare's pay formulas

Texas Health Resources is part of a new lobbying alliance. Photo: Texas Health Resources

Several hospital systems are lobbying Medicare to stop basing certain payments on their sticker prices, also known as "chargemasters" — prices the Trump administration has required them to disclose publicly.

The intrigue: Hospitals aren't advocating for lower Medicare payments. They want to reduce the prices they list publicly, while retaining the same Medicare revenues.

Go deeperArrowOct 24, 2019