- Special Sections
- Public Notices
The HMH Board of Trustees reviewed a mid-year financial report during its monthly meeting Tuesday, which recorded an $870,000 shortfall pinned primarily on the hospital’s bad debt problems. Bad debt accrues when patients fail to pay their bills.
According to the report, HMH budgeted $8.28 million for bad debt during the first six months but has racked up $10.58 million in uncompensated payments.
Elmer Cummings, vice president and chief financial officer, said the hospital has not been diligent enough in qualifying patients who may be unable to afford to pay for Medicaid or its in-house or disproportionate share charity programs. Charity care accrues for patients who cannot afford to pay.
Disproportionate share charity programs allow the hospital to be credited and recouped money that can assist the hospital in the future, Cummings said.
HMH only has expended around $9.1 million of the $12.4 million allocated for charity care, the remaining $3.3 million of which can be used to offset the charity care without a negative effect on the hospital’s budget, Cummings said.
As of December’s end, the hospital had recorded $120.3 million in revenues thanks in part to an increase in outpatient service revenue, which exceeded budget by $2.8 million at $66.7 million.
Operating expenses checked in at $121.6 million, which was $1.4 million above budget. Personnel costs were slightly below budget at $61.8 million.
Cummings said those numbers are not bad considering the issues the hospital has dealt with during the first part of the year with bad debt.
To assist patients, the hospital has hired new employees, including a financial counselor and billing staff, capable of processing claims and qualifying more people for charity care or Medicaid, he said.
Cummings said it takes talent to interact with patients in a manner that adequately explains everything they need to know and makes them feel comfortable. The goal, he said, is to ensure patients maintain their dignity during the process. They cannot simply be pushed through.
President and CEO Dennis Johnson said the problems with bad debt are striking health systems and hospitals across the nation but said the shortfall is rather minuscule when considering its budget exceeds $200 million annually.
This time last year, HMH recorded a shortfall of $623,000 while it was $571,000 two years ago.
On another note, Cummings said the hospital has seen an increase in the time it takes to receive payment on accounts because of Medicare Recovery Audit Contractors who are digging up closed accounts and reviewing them for impropriety and overpayments. RACs may review the last three years of provider claims for hospital inpatient and outpatient, skilled nursing facility, physician, ambulance and laboratory, as well as durable medical equipment, according to the American Hospital Association.
Cummings said accounts that have been pulled have already been reviewed.
“We have a very thorough account review process,” Cummings said.
Officials also said insurance providers have started asking for more records as a method to delay payments.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or email@example.com.
In other business: