Louisiana hospitals employ more than 98,000 people and generate more than $29.9 billion in economic activity, according to a new report the Louisiana Hospital Association released Tuesday.

“Hospitals and the Louisiana Economy, 2014” also shows hospitals:

  • Paid employees more than $4.6 billion.
  • Spent an average of $870 million on construction projects in 2012 and 2013.
  • Created more than 14,000 jobs in sectors other than health care as a result.

“Over the past few years, the business community and the public have really begun to understand how hospitals are intrinsically linked to the state’s economy,” said Paul Salles, LHA president and chief executive officer. “Our hospitals not only provide vital, life-saving services, but they also strengthen a community by providing well-paid, highly-skilled jobs.”

The hospitals are also using the report to bolster support for a Constitutional amendment that will provide protection from state budget cuts. The issue will go to voters statewide on Nov. 4. Critics have said the constitutional amendment will leave only one place to cut if the state has budget problems: higher education.

The LHA-sponsored report says cuts to Medicaid, which provides health care for the poor, hurts the state’s hospitals and communities.

For every 38 cents the state spends on the Medicaid program, Louisiana gets around 62 cents from the federal government.

Medicaid-related hospital spending creates and supports more than 48,000 jobs while generating more than $137.5 million in state tax collections and $117.8 million in local taxes, the report says. LSU economist James Richardson, the report’s author, said a $150 million cut in Louisiana’s direct Medicare spending will cost the state $245 million in federal dollars and 8,144 jobs statewide. Those employees will lose about $329 million in pay.

“Year after year, hospitals face state budget cuts that not only negatively impact direct hospital jobs and patient services, but also our state’s overall economy,” said Salles.

Salles said the amendment will allow the state to access additional federal funds for the Medicaid program and protect “vital health care services and jobs.”