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Hospital jobs keep growing in recession

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Even in a recession year, hospitals continued to be a stable and slightly growing source of jobs and wages in Indiana—for better and for worse. The sector paid $7.3 billion to 127,000 Hoosiers in 2008, according to the latest data from the American Hospital Association.

The data is the most recent analyzed by the AHA. In spite of the recession that began in December 2007, Indiana hospitals added 5,000 jobs in 2008 and increased their payrolls by $700 million.

Hospitals continue to be one of the surest ways for local communities to bring in outside dollars, since upwards of 50 percent of a hospital’s revenue can come from the federal Medicare program and the federal-state Medicaid programs.

Wages aren’t their only contribution, either. Indiana hospitals had total expenditures nearing $15 billion in 2008, or about 6 percent of the state’s entire economy.

Statewide, unemployment has been stuck near 10 percent for nearly a year, although the state recently has begun adding jobs.

“This study reaffirms the importance of hospitals as an integral part of the state’s economic engine,” said Douglas J. Leonard, president of the Indiana Hospital Association. “Hospitals have remained stable employers even in bad economic times.”

And yet there’s a double edge to hospital employment. The other half of hospital revenue comes from employers and private citizens, who have been increasingly squeezed by rising health care costs.

Indianapolis-based health insurer WellPoint Inc. said health care providers nationally raised prices about 8 percent in 2008, and another 8.5 percent last year. Locally, the Clarian Health hospital system pushed through rate increases of 9.75 percent in 2008 and another 9 percent last year.

That kind of spending does help create jobs in the health care sector, but tends to force non-health-care employers to reduce their payrolls to absorb the higher health care costs.

A 2004 study commissioned by the state of Indiana found that, if Hoosiers could slow the growth of health care spending by 25 percent over 10 years, the state would lose 16,000 health care jobs but gain more than four times that amount, or 68,000 non-health-care jobs.

Hospital CEOs acknowledge this, but say the way Medicare and private insurers pay them gives them incentives to do more and more procedures, not to find ways to make people healthy for less money. Some pilot programs in the new health reform law, passed in March, are designed to experiment with new payment models that reward high-quality, low-cost care rather than high volumes.

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  1. Those of you yelling to deport them all should at least understand that the law allows minors (if not from a bordering country) to argue for asylum. If you don't like the law, you can petition Congress to change it. But you can't blindly scream that they all need to be deported now, unless you want your government to just decide which laws to follow and which to ignore.

  2. 52,000 children in a country with a population of nearly 300 million is decimal dust or a nano-amount of people that can be easily absorbed. In addition, the flow of children from central American countries is decreasing. BL - the country can easily absorb these children while at the same time trying to discourage more children from coming. There is tension between economic concerns and the values of Judeo-Christian believers. But, I cannot see how the economic argument can stand up against the values of the believers, which most people in this country espouse (but perhaps don't practice). The Governor, who is an alleged religious man and a family man, seems to favor the economic argument; I do not see how his position is tenable under the circumstances. Yes, this is a complicated situation made worse by politics but....these are helpless children without parents and many want to simply "ship" them back to who knows where. Where are our Hoosier hearts? I thought the term Hoosier was synonymous with hospitable.

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