CHICAGO – Minnesota hospitals provided $509 million in uncompensated care in 2011, up from $496 million a year earlier, according to the Minnesota Hospital Association’s annual community benefits report.

“As nonprofits, hospitals and health systems provide access to care to patients — regardless of their ability to pay — 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” the association’s president, Lawrence Massa, said in a statement. “That’s why Minnesota hospitals support the expansion of Medicaid to provide insurance coverage to more Minnesotans and the creation of a Minnesota-based insurance exchange to insure more Minnesotans.”

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