Hospital bears more cuts to Medicare

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February 25, 2015 - 12:00 AM

Hospitals can no longer be viewed as “cash cows,” for a community, Ron Baker, CEO, said at Tuesday night’s meeting of hospital trustees.
Just as education and social services have had to bear massive funding cuts, so too, have those in health care.
Over the next nine years Allen County Regional Hospital can expect to see almost 6 percent of its federal funding for Medicare cut, Baker said.
“And we’re the lucky ones,” he said, because of the hospital’s critical access designation, which gives it special allowances for operating in a rural and underserved area.
Of particular note is a decline in reimbursements for bad debt from the feds. Now at 85 percent, that will drop to 65 percent, Baker said. That hits a poor region especially hard in Kansas because lawmakers have not accepted the expansion of Medicaid. Without the expansion, many of the poor have no health care coverage and are forced to seek emergency care, knowing they have no way of paying the bill.
Baker distributed a statement by the Kansas Hospital Association to expand KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program, prepared for legislators. The measure is tagged House Bill 2319 and promotes the benefits of providing health care to this segment of the population.
Included in KanCare 2 is the provision that the state can opt out of the expansion if the federal match rate drops below 90 percent.
For the first three years of the expanded program the federal government has provided 100 percent of costs. In 2016, that aid drops by 10 percent, where it is to remain.
The cost of health care continues to skyrocket because “those of the baby boom generations are taking a bigger toll on the health care system than the designers of Medicare in 1965 could ever have predicted,” Baker said.
This large population of retirees has grown up expecting Medicare to take care of their health care needs and costs, Baker said.

IN OTHER news, the scare that the hospital’s designation as a critical access facility was in jeopardy has mainly passed, Baker said. An earlier inspection by the Joint Commission has been accepted, he said. One more report awaits approval, but Baker seemed confident their due diligence would be rewarded.
Dr. Mark Greenfield of Leawood oversees the hospital’s pain clinic. He currently comes every other week but by mid-March will be here on a weekly basis, Baker said.
 Dr. Sean McReynolds, a Humboldt dentist and member of the hospital’s board of trustees, reported he recently worked at the Mission of Mercy’s free dental clinic in Salina. Over two days 133 dentists and 50 hygienists treated 1,400 patients, including 171 children. Treatment included more than 3,000 extractions and almost 1,500 fillings. This is the 14th year for the free clinic that draws patients from all over the state.
“For some, this is their annual checkup,” McReynolds said.

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