NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 19, 2005

The number of public hospitals in large metropolitan areas declined between 1996 and 2002, according to a study by the State University of New York's Downstate Medical Center.

As a result, "there is a major increase" in emergency department visits by low-income residents in suburban areas, according to Dennis Andrulis, associate dean for research at Drexel University. Low-income patients accounted for about 10.5 million visits to 839 suburban hospitals in 2002.

Researchers analyzed data from the nation's 100 largest cities and suburbs collected by federal agencies and surveys conducted by the American Hospital Association. They found:

  • The number of public hospitals in major cities declined 16 percent from 83 to 70 during the study period, while the number of public hospitals in suburban areas declined 27 percent from 134 to 98.
  • The number of for-profit hospitals declined 11 percent in both cities and suburbs and that the number of not-for-profit hospitals declined 11 percent in cities and 2 percent in suburbs.

The researchers did not address the reasons for the decrease in the number of public hospitals, but Andrulis said they did get the general sense that the hospitals were shutting down, facing a major downsizing in operations or being consolidated.

Source: Marguerite Higgins, "Public Hospitals Decline Swiftly," Washington Times, August 17, 2005.


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