Hospitals: The Key to Economic Growth

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Every pundit and politician who is worth their partisan salt has echoed bubble-based solutions for solving the economic crisis. But two reports seem to indicate that state economies are most helped when hospitals are given the freedom to carry out their respective missions.

First, an article from Healthcare Finance News reveals that “a recent study released by the North Dakota Hospital Association” indicated that “North Dakota hospitals and their employees contribute an estimated $4.7 billion each year to the state economy.” Additionally, 68 cents is transferred to other areas of the economy per hospital dollar spent.

Since 2010, the net revenues for ND health systems and hospitals have jumped up 22.5 percent to $3 billion. There are 42 community hospitals in North Dakota and close to 22,000 full-time employees at those hospitals, making ND healthcare systems the state’s largest employers.

North Dakota Health Association (NDHA) Vice President Tim Blasl had this to say about these figures:
“Clearly health care is a significant contributor to the state’s economy. Our hospitals provide a very high standard of care and serve as foundations for stability and viability in many North Dakota communities.”

Jetting our way across the country and into the Garden State of New Jersey, we find this report from the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) that found New Jersey hospitals are impacting the state economy to the tune of $19.5 billion, up $900 million from 2010.

In fact, as economic productivity sputtered, hospital productivity exploded. “…2011 saw increases in key areas of hospital activity such as total employee salaries, state income taxes paid by employees, and goods and services purchased from other businesses.”

Other areas of the economy– including building supplies, contracted labor, dietary, laundry and housekeeping, pharmaceuticals, and utilities–benefited from New Jersey hospitals to the sum total of $2.5 billion in 2011. The uninsured and working poor also received $1.3 billion in charity-care services from NJ hospitals in 2011.

NJHA President and CEO Betsy Ryan observed, “New Jersey communities rely on hospitals for healthcare services, but it’s important to remember that hospitals also are bedrocks of state and local economies. Even in the depths of a nationwide downturn, hospitals remain a strong and reliable source of jobs, salaries, and spending that reverberate throughout our state.”

This is a sentiment that seems to be echoed from coast-to-coast. In the midst of an ongoing national debate about the economy, it’s important to remember that all is not lost. Healthcare is still a bright light on the nation’s past, present, and future.

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