Jan Emerson of the California Hospital Association says the economy could cause hospitals to scale back services.
“We have hospitals that have already made these cuts or are considering it in such areas as cardiology programs, and OB programs and psychiatric units.”
Emerson says the association’s November 2008 survey found many hospitals have already laid off employees or are considering it. And, more patients are showing up in Emergency Rooms without insurance.
“We are seeing a 33 percent increase in unisured visits to the ER which likely has to be connected to the loss of jobs and the loss of health insurance.”
At the same time Emerson says state funding to hospitals is down. The survey also reports about three-quarters of patients are struggling to pay out-of-pocket costs, like co-payments. And, Emerson says almost half of hospitals have halted construction projects or have delayed buying new equipment.