University of Chicago Medicine released its annual community benefit report April 22, showing that Medicare and Medicaid losses had increased drastically in the 2020 fiscal year, and detailing a host of new community outreach and investment programs as well as the center's efforts in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
While investment increased since last year, much of that was due to a corresponding increase in the UCMC’s losses from Medicare and Medicaid. When the federal insurance programs don’t cover the full cost of care, the hospital has to make up the remainder. Last year, losses from those two programs totaled $335.2 million; this year, they were up to $405.6 million.
Part of that is probably due to the pandemic, though the fiscal year only stretches until the end of September 2020. As Chicago magazine reported in December, low-income patients — who are more likely to be on Medicare or Medicaid — are overrepresented among COVID-19 cases.
UCMC also served 12,035 Medicaid patients in 2019, according to the report — more than any other hospital in the Chicago area.
The report also details UChicago Medicine’s fight against COVID. From March to December, more than 259,000 tests were administered, and the center conducted late-phase vaccine trials. In addition, the hospital maintained the Feed1st food pantry, and distributed thousands of dollars to local community organizations.
Last June, along with several dozen other Chicago-area health organizations, UCMC published an open letter stating that “racism is a public health crisis.”
“We will work more intentionally with community-based partners in building and sustaining the sweeping change that is needed to ensure health equity across the city and particularly in our most vulnerable neighborhoods,” the groups wrote.
In September, the medical center released an equity plan that proposed to “enhance and strengthen the South Side healthcare ecosystem.” And the hospital joined forced with Advocate Trinity and St. Bernard hospitals in October to start the South Side Health Transformation Project, which aims to increase care and community outreach.
Read the full Community Benefit Report here.