My story today looks at a new study by the Missouri Hospital Association examining the economic impact of hospitals across the state. http://www.semissourian.com/story/171474...
You don't have to be an economist to realize the impact of hospitals in Cape Girardeau. With more than 4,700 employees combined, SoutheastHEALTH and Saint Francis Medical Center are the Cape Girardeau county's two largest employers.
Beyond their direct spending on payroll and supplies, hospitals and other medical care providers in Cape Girardeau are attracting "medical tourists" to our city.
The Missouri Hospital Association's study looked at the effect of "medical tourism" on Southeast Missouri.
"Southeast Missouri's hospitals provide outstanding medical care that attracts patients from neighboring sates," the study said. "These 'medical tourists' not only spend money on their medical care, but they also purchase other goods and services while away from their homes."
Medical tourism in Southeast Missouri created 119 jobs, including 86 food and beverage service jobs, 31 hotel jobs, and two service station jobs, the study showed. Medical tourism had a direct economic impact of $2.2 million and an indirect impact of $586,757. It resulted in a $2.2 million impact to food and beverages businesses, $1.1 million impact to hotels, $86,343 million to service stations.
Now is a good time to take a look at the economic impact of hospitals as all medical providers are gearing up to serve the estimated 32 million Americans, including 400,000 Missourians who will soon have new access to health insurance under federal health care reforms known as the Affordable Care Act.
"As we look at issues related to health care reform, we will continue to employ increasing numbers as increasing numbers have access to health care," said Mary Becker, senior vice president at the Missouri Hospital Association.
A majority of financing for federal health care reforms will come out of funds the government currently spends on the elderly and uninsured.
"It's a way of trying to make sure that when we look at financing of health care in the future and cutting the public programs that make up a portion of our revenue, it's important to realize we aren't cutting off a source of jobs for our state," Becker said of the study. "We need to advocate for a strong payment system for our hospitals so they can continue to employ people."