Monday, May 20, 2024

New Hampshire’s primary care infrastructure is at risk • New Hampshire Bulletin

Must read

A second public health emergency of this decade is beginning to take shape in New Hampshire. While the emergency does not involve an infectious disease, the health and well-being of New Hampshire residents are no less at risk.

Health care organizations across the state are incurring unsustainable losses. Community Health Centers, among others, are being challenged like never before as they recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While circumstances vary, at least two common factors are responsible: 1) Inflation caused operational costs to grow dramatically throughout the pandemic; and 2) The number of people who no longer have health insurance increased, resulting in less reimbursement for a portion of the care that these organizations provide.

The influx of federal COVID-19 funding helped to sustain our health care system through the pandemic, but also served to mask this critical problem. As Community Health Centers’ COVID-19 funding has reached its end, the health care system’s structural weaknesses have reappeared and deepened.

Recent headlines announcing layoffs at one of the state’s major hospitals illustrate the pressures that hospital systems now confront.

Not making headlines, thus far, is the grave distress that other health care providers in the state now face: Nearly all the state’s Community Health Centers are losing money, with increased expenses outpacing flat revenue this year; nursing homes are struggling; and the state’s mental health and developmental service providers are reporting similar concerns.

Smaller organizations are particularly at risk. Many have nearly exhausted their reserve funds and are facing the necessity of layoffs, site closures, and other extraordinary measures to ensure their survival.

All these organizations play an important role in New Hampshire’s health care system, and in all our lives. A failure of any one of them could result in the unnecessary loss of life, additional health care spending, and delays in care that could impact everyone, regardless of their insurance status.

Emergency stabilization funding is needed to support organizations at risk of failure and provide all stakeholders with the time needed to ensure the stability of a system all New Hampshire residents rely upon.

Once stabilized, policymakers can work with health care providers to ensure that our state’s health care safety net is strong and durable. Adjustments to the health care economics in the post-pandemic arena are important tasks ahead of us, to account for the cost of uncompensated care, changing employment structures, and forward-looking investments in our workforce – but for now, things need to be stabilized.

Latest article