Monday, April 22, 2013

S&P: Pensions A Burden For Nonprofit Hospitals

Pension liabilities will be continue to be a burden for nonprofit hospitals rating service, Standard and Poor's (S&P), reported Monday.

While there are other factors contributing to the financial problems of the sector, large pension funding demands are the biggest factor according to a report in Reuters. S&P credit analyst Liz Sweeney said in a statement that the promises of these retirement benefits could be a "drag" on nonprofit hospitals for several years despite improvements in the investments used to fund retirement services.

"Low discount rates have hampered the improvement in funding levels despite a rebound in asset values during the past two years," said Sweeney.

Retirement benefits are just one of the many challenges nonprofit hospitals are facing. S&P noted that as pension gaps continue to grow in state and local governments, employers are putting more money into healthcare systems that have redesigned pensions, which could leave less funds for other projects.

"We believe that health systems will continue to implement plan changes to seek the next level of cost savings within the context of organization-wide expense reduction measures," S&P reported.

Changes from the Affordable Care Act, increasing stress on Medicaid and Medicare, and increased healthcare demands in general, are also increasing the financial difficulties for nonprofit hospitals across the country.

You can read the full story in Reuters.

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