Nebraska health officials call for financial support amid inflation, workforce crises

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Nebraska Hospital Association is urging state lawmakers to consider an increase to Medicaid provider rates amid rising costs at hospitals.

In a Monday press release, officials said hospitals would have to make “difficult financial decisions” without an increase in provider reimbursement rates.

Jeremy Nordquist, president of the Nebraska Hospital Association, said state facilities can’t “weather” the current workforce and inflation crises.

“Nebraska hospitals remain steadfast in our commitment to compassionately care for every Nebraskan and to turn no one away,” Nordquist said in the release. “We call on the state to take action in keeping provider rates current with inflation so our hospitals can continue to provide excellent patient care that all Nebraskans have come to expect.”

With rises in labor, supply, food and drug costs – Nebraska hospitals said that costs per patient have increased by 20.1% from pre-pandemic levels.

Government payers – such as Medicare and Medicaid – provide Nebraska hospitals with about 60% to 80% of their revenue, NHA said.

But rates, which are set by state lawmakers, only increased by 2% in state fiscal years 2022 and 2023, according to the press release.

“This hospital financial crisis is growing quickly, largely due to the increased cost of labor; the hospital leaders I’ve spoken with tell me this is the worst they have seen in their entire careers,” Nordquist said in the release. “Inaction or inadequate rate increases is going to have a negative impact on the ability of Nebraskans to get care in or near their communities.”

In a recent survey done by NHA, 54% of state hospitals said they were operating in the red, with some implementing hiring freezes or laying off staff, according to the press release.

“Our hospitals cannot keep operating on negative margins; the math is that simple,” Nordquist said. 

Nebraska’s 2023 legislative session begins on Wednesday.

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