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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow HOSPITAL FACES $1.4 MILLION LOSS IN REIMBURSEMENTS

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HOSPITAL FACES $1.4 MILLION LOSS IN REIMBURSEMENTS

By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Grande Ronde Hospital could lose as much as $1.4 million over the next two years if proposed cuts in reimbursement from Medicaid are approved by the state.

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems has estimated that statewide about $106 million will be lost to hospital through the 2003-05 biennium if reimbursement reductions are implemented.

In Oregon, Medicaid is administered by the Oregon Health Plan. The state Department of Human Services has proposed a number of reductions in many social services, including the health plan, in the wake of revenue downturns and budget shortages.

Janet Wright, vice president for patient care at Grande Ronde, said Thursday that if approved, the cuts would begin in January — "three weeks away."

The losses to the state and the hospital would be compounded by the corresponding loss of federal funds.

"For every dollar the state spends on the Oregon Health Plan, the federal government matches it with $1.50," the hospital association reported. "So for every dollar the state cuts, $2.50 is removed from Oregon's economy. That means these cuts cost more than they save."

"It's really about how much we get paid for the services we provide people here," Wright said.

The decision to reduce reimbursements is not final, Wright said.

"The hospital association and providers would like to reduce the number of services provided (instead of the reimbursement rate)," she said. "We can reduce the number of people eligible, the number of services, or reduce payment to providers, all of which nobody wants to do."

Wright said she does not know which services the hospital would reduce if that becomes an option, but she said, "you'd have less choices as to treatments covered by the plan."

Emergency services would not be reduced under any plan, she said.

The hospital board is starting the budgeting process for the 2003 fiscal year, which begins in May, and Wright said it is not yet known how the board

will budget for the possible reductions.

"We're looking at what capital equipment must be replaced — if we need any new equipment," she said. "Equipment replacement is the furtherest away from patient care. We'll try to stay away from the bedside."

Hospital President Jim Mattes said in a written statement, "We support the Oregon Health Plan and want to see it succeed, but cutting reimbursement to hospitals won't stabilize the plan. It's a lose-lose approach. ... We should be leveraging the federal dollars available to Oregon; not throwing them away."

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