Scripps and none of the other big hospital chains in California wanted this hospital so with just a few million in reserves, it will close the ER room and inpatient services. This is yet another example of the smaller hospitals getting squeezed out of the game as they can’t negotiate contracts with the kind of buying power the larger chains have.
This means of course that patients will have to travel further for services to Palomar and Tri-City Medical. Community Health Services of Tennessee has managed the hospital and has a 30 year lease agreement. BD
FALLBROOK — In a way, it is remarkable that Fallbrook Hospital held on as long as it did.
The financial pressures that will ultimately close the 47-bed facility on Nov. 17 have forced nearly 100 other hospitals in California out of business since 1996.
Last week, facing continued losses that reached nearly $6 million in 2013, the Fallbrook Healthcare District’s board of directors opted to cease admitting patients and instead align with Palomar Health and Tri-City Medical Center, both public health districts, to offer a range of outpatient services in the community.
It has become difficult for small hospitals like Fallbrook to cover ever-increasing overhead costs and broker deals with private insurance companies that want to work with medical providers able to care for thousands of subscribers. The Affordable Care Act has only intensified that pressure, experts said.
Government payments from Medicare and Medi-Cal, California’s insurance program for the poor and disadvantaged, are not much help, said Jan Emerson-Shea, spokeswoman for the California Hospital Association. Neither program brings in enough revenue to cover the cost of treatment, so hospitals that cannot broker favorable rates from private insurance companies struggle to survive, she said.
“Hospitals lose about 40 cents on the dollar for every Medi-Cal patient they treat. Medicare is better, but we still lose money,” Emerson-Shea said.
Only one offer, made by a for-profit operator out of Riverside, came through. The Fallbrook Healthcare District board members deemed it too financially risky to pursue. None of the big names in San Diego County’s medical world — including Scripps Health, Sharp HealthCare and Kaiser Permanente — put forward a plan.