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Healthcare's Grim Winter Feels Endless

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, March 1, 2013

As heavy snowstorms have moved across the country over the past couple of weeks, it's been hard to believe that spring is just around the corner. And if you're like me, on your first strep infection after your fourth cold of the new year, spring certainly sounds nice.

But for healthcare organizations, their winter, in the form of years of expected reimbursement cuts may be just beginning. In the same way, the sequester that is supposed to take effect later today, could be considered a first snowfall in what seems to be shaping up as a long financial winter for healthcare.  It calls for a chilling 2% across-the-board cut in Medicare spending.

Many organizations are preparing, however. The industry seems to be laying in supplies to last through the cold climate in the form of a dynamism of deals the sector hasn't seen in years, even decades.

My head spins with the wave of partnerships, mergers, and other affiliations we're seeing in the hospital and health system space—lately there's been a big one about every other day. These used to be huge news, but they're happening so frequently lately that we're have to do a "roundup" of them on our news desk just to keep up.

As 2014 approaches, when most of the major provisions of health reform start to take effect, it seems hospitals are preparing for the coming revenue winter by huddling together. Is that too dramatic a metaphor?

Not for some of the CEOs with whom I've recently spoken.

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