Denver Health Nears Collapse Under Pressure from Migrants and Low-Income Patients

Denver Health has found itself on the brink of collapse after financial challenges that have reportedly been brought on by the ongoing migrant crisis. The influx of Central American migrants and the strain of caring for patients who can’t afford medical services, has led the hospital system to seek urgent financial support.

A Strain on Denver Health

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In 2023, Denver Health recorded a staggering 20,000 visits from 8,000 Central American migrants, ranging from dental emergencies to mental health counseling.

Venezuelan Migrants Seek Financial Future

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This influx which mainly came from Venezuela due to their ongoing economic crisis, has created an unexpected financial burden, resulting in a $2 million loss for Denver Health in the past year. 

Denver Health’s Warning

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“If we were to have another year like [2022], it would have dire consequences,” warned Steve Federico, chief of government and community affairs for Denver Health.

The Ripple Effect

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Denver Health faced a $136 million loss in 2023, primarily due to patients who couldn’t pay, including the cost of care for illegal immigrants that state and federal governments declined to reimburse. 

Hospital Essentials Affected

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This financial strain led to the closure of psychiatric beds, reduced raises, and postponed renovations. 

“Heartbreaking” Climax

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“While I have tremendous compassion for what’s going on, it’s heartbreaking, it’s going to break Denver Health,” laments CEO Donna Lynne.

The Plea for Support

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CEO Donna Lynne appealed to Denver council members, urging increased financial support from the city, which already contributes approximately $30.8 million annually to cover the costs of patients unable to pay. 

Mental Health and Abuse Affected

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Lynne stressed the critical juncture Denver Health finds itself in, turning away patients daily, particularly in mental health and substance abuse areas. 

Time For Action According To CEO

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“What I think is not being said is that Denver Health is at a critical, critical point, and that we need to take this up in 2024,” Lynne stressed, “Because our costs exceed our revenues, we are turning down patients every day, particularly in the area of mental health and substance abuse.”

The City’s Dilemma

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City councilwoman Amanda Sawyer contended that the city cannot bear the entire burden, given that not all of the patients served by Denver Health reside in Denver, “This is not the last conversation we’re going to have. This is the first conversation,” she said. 

New Bill Provides Hope

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A proposed bill in the statehouse could see the state contribute $5 million annually to Denver Health, in an attempt to turn fortunes around.

The State’s Turn To Help

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“I think the city of Denver should do more, but the state also has to step in,” insists state representative Judy Amabile, the bill’s sponsor.

Denver’s Delicate Balance

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While $5 million from the state and $10 million from Kaiser Permanente Colorado helped narrow the financial gap for Denver Health, there’s still a long way to go according to experts.

Doctors Speak Out 

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Safety net hospitals across the country, including Denver Health, grapple with rising expenses outpacing revenues. “There is a limit to our capacity,” acknowledged Dr. Steve Federico, chief of government and community affairs.

Denver Health as the Safety Net

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Denver Health, often regarded as the safety net provider for the entire state, plays a vital role in taking in patients other facilities might refuse. 

Other Hospitals Face Dire Financial Strain

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Despite this, the financial strains extend beyond Denver Health, with about 72% of hospitals in Colorado reporting “unsustainable” profit margins below 4% as of 2022.

Migrant Care Costs

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The healthcare system, burdened with the costs of caring for Central American migrants, has reached out to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for support. 

Looking For Emergency Assistance

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Denver Health is also seeking assistance from the state and the city to offset rising expenses in caring for the unhoused and addressing the surge in mental health and addiction cases. 

A Future For Everyone

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The future looks bleak for Denver Hospital as the government looks to do everything it can to care for people from all walks of life, including those not from the U.S.

The post Denver Health Nears Collapse Under Pressure from Migrants and Low-Income Patients first appeared on Liberty & Wealth.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / eldar nurkovic. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.

The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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