Study: Hospital Outpatient Departments Treat Sicker, Poorer Patients

Medicare patients who receive care in a hospital outpatient department are likely to be poorer and have more severe chronic conditions than Medicare patients treated in an independent physician office, according to a study prepared for the American Hospital Association. “America’s hospitals and health systems are proud to provide care and emergency services 24/7 to all who come through the door regardless of their ability to pay,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “But as this study clearly shows, the needs of the patients hospital outpatient departments care for each day are different from those who choose to be seen at an independent physician office. Proposals that treat them the same ignore the very different clinical and regulatory demands hospitals face, and could threaten access to care.” In addition, hospitals are held to far higher regulatory standards because of the complexity of caring for these higher acuity patients.

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