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Denver metro hospitals had $1.4B in total profits in first year of pandemic

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Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Hospitals in the Denver metro area had total profits of $1.4 billion in 2020, according to a recent report from the state Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (HCPF). 

The department’s Hospital Insights Report measured how Colorado’s hospitals fared during the pandemic, but also compared how hospitals in different regions of the state performed in comparison to one another.  

“This new insights report identifies opportunities for partnership that strengthen hospitals’ pandemic readiness in a way that addresses community needs while also identifying system sustainability and affordability priorities,” said Kim Bimestefer, executive director for the HCPF. 

According to the report, Colorado has some of the nation’s most profitable hospitals and was one of only two states in 2020 to rank in the top-10 for all measures of hospital cost, price, and profit. 

Overall, Colorado’s hospital profitability slipped to 9.3% in 2020 compared to 12% in 2019. One reason for the dip was because the state’s hospital system returned more than $6 billion in federal stimulus funds, including more than $100 million that went directly to the hospitals themselves. 

However, the report also pointed out that federal stimulus dollars were key to helping Colorado’s rural hospitals maintain their profitability. Without those dollars, the report found that many of the state’s rural hospitals would have barely broken even in 2020. 

“We have a shared goal to learn from this experience, evaluate the present and create new policy to prevent the need to activate or even consider crisis standards of care in Colorado again,'' Bimestefer said.

The report said its findings represent a “continued opportunity for Colorado hospitals to partner with the state to reduce their commercial prices and lower their overall costs.”