With Congress and states looking to trim healthcare spending, the American Hospital Association this week issued a none-too-subtle reminder that hospitals are economic engines for the communities they serve.
Citing various data sources, AHA said that the nation's hospitals employ 5.5 million people and create $2 trillion dollars in economic activity, even as "some in Congress continue to threaten access to hospital services."
"It's important that people understand that hospitals are not a drain on our economy. They are a driver," Caroline Steinberg, AHA's vice president for trends analysis, told HealthLeaders Media. "They not only provide medical care to support a healthy and productive workforce. They also act as an economic engine supporting trillions of dollars of economic activity nationwide."
"Very few people really understand that," Steinberg says. "I remember some years back being at a conference where they were talking about national health expenditures. Everything they said, if they had said it about another sector of the economy, it would have been a positive. 'It's growing as a share of (Gross Domestic Product). It has this many more people employed. It's a growth industry.'"
Steinberg noted that the healthcare sector added an average of 28,000 new jobs each month in 2012. "Throughout the recession healthcare was a steady producer of jobs and you can't really say that about any other industries," she says.