Summa Health System Reports $2.86 Billion in Economic Impact, $110.8 Million in Community Benefit

Analysts say Summa is poised to help transform the region's healthcare landscape

Oct 15, 2010, 09:01 ET from Summa Health System

AKRON, Ohio, Oct. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Summa Health System President and CEO Thomas J. Strauss announced today that Summa delivered $2.86 billion in total economic impact and provided $110.8 million in community benefit to area residents in 2009. Strauss announced the results while unveiling the health system's Economic Impact and Community Benefit reports during Summa's 2010 Community Leadership Briefing.

"We are proud to confirm that, once again, Summa increased its community contributions and economic impact in 2009," he said. "As the area's largest employer, we take our responsibilities seriously and have a deep and continuing commitment to providing social and economic support to the community."

Contributing to a Healthier Economy

The economic impact study, "Contributing to a Healthier Economy in Northeast Ohio: The Impact of Summa Health System," was prepared by consulting firm Tripp Umbach. According to the report, Summa's $2.86 billion in total economic impact to Ohio consisted of $1.2 billion in direct business volume, which includes institutional spending, employee spending and spending by visitors to Summa facilities.  It also included $1.6 billion in indirect impact – a multiplier effect caused by the re-spending of dollars in the local economy as a result of Summa's presence.

The largest economic impact occurred in Summit County, where the health system accounted for $1.6 billion in business activity and provided wage and salaried employment for nearly 7,000 direct and indirect full time employees in 2009.

Summa, which includes a network of hospitals, health centers, a health plan, a physician-hospital association, a research group and multiple foundations, also provided significant economic impact across Portage ($228 million), Stark ($342 million), Medina ($119 million) and Wayne ($42 million) Counties.

Poised for Growth

According to the analysts at Tripp Umbach, Summa's total annual business volume impact on the State of Ohio is likely to increase by approximately $2.6 billion by the year 2014. Analysts attribute the projected increase to growth in capital expenditures, operating expenses and employment to support the health system's continued expansion throughout the next several years.

"The system is engaged with several regional innovation networks that will ultimately benefit Summa, the region, and Ohio's economic position," the report states. "Summa is strategically aligned with the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron, Nortech, and Bio Enterprise to transform Northeast Ohio's education, research and clinical innovation landscape."

Care for the Community: $110.8 Million in Benefit

In addition to releasing the economic impact study, Summa also unveiled its annual Community Benefit report. As the region's largest safety-net provider, Summa delivered $110.8 million in community benefit – led by $31.1 million in the net cost of traditional charity care, and $16.6 million in unpaid costs for Medicaid patients. In addition, Summa reported $21.6 million in bad debt, which is the cost of covering payments that were expected but not received, and $12.8 million in subsidized health services, such as senior health, HIV/AIDS care, and dental heath.  

"We believe in the people, neighborhoods and communities of our region," Strauss said. "We think about our work not only as physicians, health providers and administrators, but also as members and stewards of the community."

Healthcare Reform: Transforming Local Communities

The economic impact and community benefit results were presented as part of a summit titled, "The Winds of Change: How Healthcare Reform Can Transform Local Communities." Strauss explained that the summit, which was attended by more than 250 government, business, community and civic leaders, was created in response to questions from area residents.

"Many business and civic leaders have expressed concerns about the impact of healthcare reform on our community," Strauss said. "To provide insight into this complicated question, we brought together several prominent speakers to discuss how providers and payers plan to transform local communities within the context of reform."

Speakers at the briefing included:

  • Susan Dentzer, editor-in-chief of Health Affairs Journal
  • Kevin Barnett, Ph.D., vice president, Community Benefit, Research & Health Policy, Public Health Institute
  • Gary Earl, senior vice president, CIGNA HealthCare National Accounts
  • Carlos Jackson, senior associate director of federal relations for the American Hospital Association

Dentzer told the audience during her keynote address that while the healthcare reform debate is far from over, some key elements of the new paradigm are beginning to take shape.

"There will be a number of post-election skirmishes at the state and federal levels around implementation and funding, and the lawsuits challenging individual mandates of healthcare reform are likely to reach the Supreme Court," Dentzer said. "But regardless of who the big winners are this November, the more popular aspects of healthcare reform – particularly reforms in insurance coverage – look like they are here to stay."

Jackson added that there will be opportunities to improve the quality and availability of care in communities like Northeast Ohio.

"There are real opportunities to improve access and quality of care," Jackson said. "For example, Congress establishes a Prevention and Public Health Fund to encourage wellness programs in schools and workplaces, and provides community transformation grants to increase access to preventive services."

Barnett noted that reducing health care costs will require collaborative approaches to address the causes of health problems in local communities.

"Visionary leaders recognize that health reform will eventually shift financial incentives away from filling beds and towards keeping populations healthy.  This will require us to understand and address the causes of health problems in the community context.  Collaborative approaches to community benefit will help hospitals build internal capacity and brings together our resources and expertise to solve persistent health problems."

Strauss concluded by telling the audience that Summa looks forward to continuing in its role as the region's healthcare leader in the new age of healthcare.

"No longer is community benefit defined only in the amount of charity care provided, number of health screenings administered or dollars invested – it's also the number of lives saved, communities transformed and jobs created," Strauss said. "Health systems such as Summa play a vital role in advancing community health, economic development, medical education and research priorities, and we look forward to continuing our commitment to the people in our communities."

About Summa Health System

Summa Health System is one of the largest integrated delivery systems in Ohio. Encompassing a network of hospitals, community health centers, a health plan, a physician-hospital organization, a multi-specialty physician organization, research and multiple foundations, Summa is nationally renowned for excellence in patient care and for exceptional approaches to healthcare delivery. Summa's clinical services are consistently recognized by HealthGrades, U.S. News and World Report, Thomson Reuters and The Leapfrog Group. Summa also is a founding partner of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron. For more information, visit www.summahealth.org.

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