By Kathleen Sloan
The Sierra Vista Hospital Joint Powers Commission met Friday, Aug. 31. Hospital Chief Executive Officer Domenica Rush started the meeting with news of a stellar year financially, reflected first by a cash balance of $5.6 million; second, end-of-fiscal-year assets worth just short of $12 million, which is up $3.4 million from last year, and third, Rush said the end-of-year audit, by Dingus, Zarecore & Associates is not public yet, not approved by the State Auditor yet, but so far, shows no findings.
Rush said the cash balance will likely become more flush because there will be a substantial second disbursement of Sole Provider funds from the state quite soon. Sierra County, the hospital’s fiscal agent, will pass a resolution at the Sept. 18, county meeting in order to accept this supplement.
There is a cloud on the horizon, however. Rush said, “Obama-care is not the big issue for us, New Mexico Centennial Care is. This is the state, not the feds we’re worried about.”
The State of New Mexico is redesigning its Medicare and Medicaid coverage, now spread out over seven contractors. In an effort to consolidate, Rush said the state “is trying to define “uncompensated care.” Rush said the hospital provides $3 million per year of uncompensated care, which includes “underpaid Medicaid” services. If the state redefines Medicare uncompensated care services, “that could mean $6 million” in services the hospital is not reimbursed for, said Rush.
Rush said the state is “having trouble defining uncompensated care. If they can’t do it, we, the Hospital Association, will do it for them. We are getting ready to go to the State Legislature.”
Rush said there are eight rural healthcare hospitals in the state with fewer than 50 beds who should be exempted from this attempt to redefine Medicare and Medicare uncompensated care. She said those hospitals are very dependent on those reimbursements and could go out of business.