Hospitals are vital institutions for our communities. They are where we seek care when life puts a wrinkle in our world. Right now, hospitals in Indiana and across the country are facing unprecedented financial challenges including increased labor, supplies, and pharmaceutical costs as we continue to repair the fabric of our communities post-pandemic.
Health care systems stitch together the various components of treating an illness so that patients can focus on recovering. Those threads run deep across northern Indiana. Saint Joseph Health System (SJHS) has served residents of Marshall, St. Joseph and Elkhart counties for over 150 years. We employ over 3,000 colleagues, provide high-paying jobs, and our doors are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Beyond the four walls of our hospitals, Saint Joseph Mishawaka Medical Center and Plymouth Medical Center, Saint Joseph Health System invested over $54 million dollars in the community in fiscal year 2022. Our community health and patient financial assistance programs provide health improvement services, community education and direct care to uninsured, low-income and other vulnerable members of our community.
We welcome the responsibility to care for the lives of our communities. It is our mission. But we need support. The current population served at Saint Joseph Health System is 21% Medicaid and 51% Medicare. Reimbursement rates for these services have not changed for decades. This means that as the cost of living, supplies, and wages have increase, the reimbursement rate for hospital services has not kept pace. Currently, hospitals are reimbursed 23 cents on the dollar for Medicaid and 87 cents on the dollar for Medicare. The imbalance between the cost of care and these reimbursement rates means Saint Joseph Health System faces a deficit for 72% of the patients we serve.
We need legislative leaders to step up and pay for the services hospitals provide. Caring for the community is the right thing to do and it is time that local, state and federal policymakers work closely with hospitals to ensure the vitality and health of our local communities. Our front-line health care workers are our heroes. Working together, we can and will improve the health of our communities.
Hospital Administrator – Plymouth Medical Center
Saint Joseph Health System