Shriners Seek Government Money in Move towards Socialized Medicine

Shriners Seek Government Money in Move towards Socialized Medicine

Cash squeeze forces Shriners hospitals to begin billing insurance carriers

Published: Friday, Jul. 10, 2009 – 12:00 am |

At a national meeting in San Antonio this week, the Shriners, in an effort to avoid financial collapse, considered closing six hospitals, among other dramatic changes.

On Thursday, the group decided that all facilities will remain open for the time being – but the hospitals will begin collecting insurance payments for the first time in the group’s 87-year history.

Money to operate the Shriners hospitals until now has come from the group’s endowment fund, which is maintained through gifts, bequests and annual assessments paid by the 400,000 or so Shriners members. The fund, battered by the recession, has shrunk from $8 billion to $5 billion in the past year, former chief executive Ralph Semb told The Bee in April.

Shriners gets about $250 million a year in donations and can earn another $250 million from its diminished endowment, but this year’s budget is $856 million, said Semb, who was succeeded this week by Maxwell.

In an effort to keep the system afloat, Shriners will allow its hospitals to bill the private or government insurance plans of patients who have coverage. Endowment money will continue to be used for patients who are without insurance.


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