Clearly, between 20% (Thomson Reuters) and 34% of hospital CEOs see negative margins in the second quarter of 2009. For those folks, it doesn't matter that overall, hospital margins have recovered. They're still facing tough times.
Your picture may not match up with either of these reports. There's no way to know what life is like in the trenches without a much deeper dive into each individual organization. Despite their shortcomings, both of these studies show that hospitals are making do with less, as most of us are.
No survey or study is going to tell you this, but if there's one thing I've learned in the past year in discussing the economy and healthcare reform with hospital and health system CEOs, they'll need to continue to do so.