Athens Regional Medical Center generated more than $791 million in revenue for the local economy in 2012 according to a recent report by the Georgia Hospital Association, the state’s largest hospital trade association. The report also found that during the same time period, Athens Regional provided approximately $26 million in uncompensated care while sustaining more than 5,698 full-time jobs throughout Athens and the rest of the state.
The report revealed that Athens Regional had direct expenditures of more than $346 million in 2012. When combined with an economic multiplier developed by the United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, the total economic impact of those expenditures was more than $791 million. This output multiplier considers the “ripple” effect of direct hospital expenditures on other sectors of the economy, such as medical supplies, durable medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. Economic multipliers are used to model the resulting impact of a change in one industry on the “circular flow” of spending within an economy as a whole.
“This new report shows that, even in these difficult economic times, Athens Regional has an enormous positive impact on our local economy,” said Dr. Chuck Peck, interim CEO of Athens Regional. “We thank the Athens community’s unwavering support of their local hospital and will continue to work hard to ensure that the citizens of this community have access to healthcare services that are second to none in quality and
While Athens Regional remains a major component of the area’s economic engine, the hospital’s leadership, like the rest of the Georgia hospital community, is concerned about a wide array of economic challenges that have made it increasingly difficult to meet the community’s healthcare needs including continued cuts in Medicare and Medicaid payments and fast-growing uninsured population. Presently, more than a third of all hospitals in Georgia are operating with negative margins.
“We’re extremely concerned with the current healthcare environment in Georgia,” Dr. Peck said. “We’ve made a commitment to every citizen of our region to be a Trauma Center, on call for them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Our ability to do so is being challenged when, in many cases, we’re seeing an increasing number of uninsured patients while the state is paying us far less than what it actually costs to treat Medicaid patients.”
According to Dr. Peck, state lawmakers must work to protect the state’s healthcare system with the same fervor that they do other initiations like education and public utilities.
“Our local healthcare system is indispensable,” said Dr. Peck. “It is the primary guardian of health in our community and is the key building block for everything else in our community including education and economic vitality. It is our hope that, even in these challenging economic times, that our elected lawmakers will do what is necessary to protect our local healthcare system and preserve access to healthcare for every resident of Athens.”