Columbus, GA – In 2006, the hospitals of Columbus Regional Healthcare System generated more than $845.5 million in revenue for the local economy according to a recent report by the Georgia Hospital Association, the state’s largest hospital trade association. The report found that the hospitals of Columbus Regional provided approximately $30.1 million in uncompensated care while sustaining more than 7,160 jobs throughout Columbus and the rest of the state. The 2006 data used to compile the report was provided by the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) and is the most recent information currently available. The report was made prior to the acquisitions of Doctors Hospital and Hughston Hospital by The Medical Center Hospital Authority.
The report revealed that the hospitals of Columbus Regional had direct expenditures of more than $341.9 million in 2006. The Medical Center’s expenditures were reported at more than $219.6 million, Doctors Hospital’s expenditures were $59 million, and direct expenditures for Hughston Hospital were approximately $63.2 million. When combined with the economic multiplier developed by the United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the total economic impact of those expenditures was over $845.5 million. This output multiplier considers the “ripple” effect of direct hospital expenditures on other sectors of the economy, such as medical supplies, durable medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. Economic multipliers are used to model the resulting impact of a change in one industry on the “circular flow” of spending within an economy as a whole.
“This new report shows that, even in these difficult economic times, our hospitals have had an enormous positive impact on our local economy,” said Larry Sanders, chairman and CEO of Columbus Regional. “We thank the Columbus community for its unwavering support and we will continue to work hard to ensure that the citizens of this community have access to health care services that are second to none in quality and affordability.”
While Columbus Regional remains a major component of the area’s economic engine, the hospitals’ leadership, like the rest of the Georgia hospital community, is concerned about a wide array of economic challenges that have made it increasingly difficult to meet the community’s health care needs including continued cuts in Medicare and Medicaid payments and a fast-growing uninsured population. Presently, more than a third of all hospitals in Georgia are operating with negative margins.
“We’re extremely concerned with the current operating environment for hospitals,” said Mr. Sanders. “We’re committed to every citizen in our community to be available for them every day of the year. But our ability to do so is being compromised when, in many cases, we’re seeing an increasing number of uninsured patients while the state is paying us far less than what it actually costs to treat Medicaid patients.”
According to Mr. Sanders, state lawmakers must work to protect the state’s health care system with the same fervor that they do other initiatives like education and public utilities.
“Our local health care system is indispensable,” said Mr. Sanders. “It is the primary guardian of health in our community and is the key building block for everything else in our community including education and economic vitality. It is our hope that, even in these challenging economic times, our elected lawmakers will do what is necessary to protect our local health care system and preserve access to health care for every resident of Columbus.”