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Worst Hospitals Treat Larger Share Of Poor

Wed, 10/12/2011 - 9:38am
Carla K. Johnson

The nation's worst hospitals treat twice the proportion of elderly black patients and poor patients than the best hospitals, and their patients are more likely to die of heart attacks and pneumonia, new research shows.

Now, these hospitals, mostly in the South, may be at higher risk of financial failure, too. That's because the nation's new health care law punishes bad care by withholding some money, says the lead author of the study published Wednesday in the journal Health Affairs.

"These hospitals are going to have a much harder time in the new funding environment," said Dr. Ashish Jha of the Harvard School of Public Health, who led the study. "I worry they're going to get worse over time and possibly even fail. I worry that we're going to see a bunch of that happening over next three to five years."

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