Hospitals operating in the state provided more than $1.8 billion in community-related benefits in 2007, up by $200 million a year earlier, according to a report released last week by the Missouri Hospital Association.

About $117 million of the increase was due to a higher level of uncompensated care. “Hospitals continue to provide an important safety net for health services in communities throughout the state,” MHA president Marc Smith said in a statement. “The 2007 data illustrate that even before the onset of the current hard economic times, hospitals were making significant investments in caring for the poor and providing health services for communities.”

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