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Is There A Future For The Non-Profit Healthcare Providers?

There is a continuing and troubling trend occurring in the post-acute healthcare delivery system, whereby well respected and long tenured non-profit/faith-based senior care organizations are exiting the field-either through closure or acquisition by proprietary national chain provider groups.

Some possible reasons for this transition are lack of critical mass in obtaining goods and services at optimal price points. (Chain organizations can purchase for dozens or hundreds of owned buildings, whereas for the most part, non-profits are purchasing based on their own smaller size and volumes) Another driver may be the refusal of non-profit organizations to staff at levels commensurate with restrictive and inadequate public reimbursement.

By history, faith-based entities were the earliest deliverers of needed community health gaps, going back to the nuns and monks of medieval times. Over time, our health delivery system has steadily shifted to a for-profit model, where resources that would have been available to offer the supplement services and assistance to deserving seniors under care and now going to investment returns to shareholders.

One could argue that the marketplace always decides and that efficiency is equally, if not more important then quality of service. However, for some of us, the concept of provider organizations financially benefitting from the medical misfortune of frail elderly does not speak well to our society’s moral obligation to aid the populations most in need.

Since the advent of publicly reported federal Quality Metrics,

non-profit senior care providers have consistently exceeded the performance outcomes of proprietary entities. Nationally, staffing levels for non-profit/faith-based senior care facilities have been materially higher than those of for-profit facilities.

Although there is no lack of willing proprietary senior service providers in today’s health delivery environment, a reasonable question, in light of this sponsorship transition, is what will be lost when the last faith-based providers have to exit the market. Another way of viewing this situation would be to answer the question: If you had a relative in need of facility-based senior care service, would you prefer it in a setting with community ownership, under the direction of a non-compensated Board of Directors made up of mission driven community members, or a scenario where an Amazon or Google commoditizes senior care as another profit center, with little local accountability?


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