Texas County Memorial Hospital CEO Wes Murray says, "hospital and any other rural hospital in the state are subject to close in the coming years" as uncompensated care continues to grow.

Texas County Memorial Hospital will bring counselors to the region to provide education and enrollment opportunities to residents under the Affordable Care Act.

TCMH is working with certified counselors from CoxHealth in Springfield.

“We want to utilize every resource available to help area residents get healthcare coverage,” Murray said, explaining that TCMH does not have the resources available to provide a counselor.

CoxHealth was one of several healthcare entities in the state that received funding to hire insurance counselors — formally known as Healthcare Navigators –– that will go out into the public to provide education and help enroll patients in the health insurance exchange.

Dr. John Duff, CoxHealth representative, explained that at Cox facilities the counselors would be able to talk to uninsured patients that arrive in the emergency department or patients that are admitted and do not have insurance. Duff outlined the program during last week’s TCMH board of trustees meeting.

“Although we cannot counsel patients, we hope to be able to provide our uninsured patients with information about counselors that they can contact that will help them with their questions and possible enrollment,” Murray said.

Murray anticipates that the education and enrolling process will be ongoing. Additional information about the services will be posted on the TCMH website and in the TCMH clinics as well as publicized through area media outlets.

Uninsured patients have a dramatic affect on the bottom line of hospitals, including Texas County Memorial Hospital. That factor, along with the Missouri Legislature’s decision not to expand and reform Medicaid, will affect hospitals because the Affordable Care Act was drafted with incentives for the state’s to expand the program.

Linda Pamperien, chief financial officer at TCMH, reported continued decreasing revenues in August.

“Admissions are down 100 patients for the year in comparison to 2012,” Pamperien said.

Pamperien attributed some of the decrease in admissions to changes in patient admission requirements. 

“We’ve had more ‘observation’ stays versus admissions, and our physicians are very conscientious about moving patients to swing bed status when the time is right,” Pamperien said.

It was noted that patient admission and observation requirements were expected to change again on Oct. 1. With the new rule, physicians that expect patients to be in the hospital for “two midnights” will be considered “admission” rather than “observation” patients.

Pamperien has also been collecting and compiling hospital employee wage data for BKD, the hospital’s accounting firm, which is doing a statewide wage index review of hospitals.  TCMH and other hospitals are currently facing a $15 decrease in payment for each patient admission from the Center for Medicare Services, and BKD is working to show the true cost for labor in patient care areas.

“With the data BKD is collecting, we may be able to get a $53 increase in payment per admission rather than a cut,” Pamperien explained.  

TCMH ended August with a negative bottom line of $71,678 and a year-to-date negative balance of $702,880.

Present at the meeting were Murray; Pamperien; Duff; Dr. Schaun Flaim, chief of staff; Joleen Senter Durham, director of public relations; Amanda Turpin, quality management director; Dr. Matthew Brown; Dr. Charles Mueller; attorney John Hammons; and board members Omanez Fockler, Janet Wiseman and Russell Gaither. Board members Mark Hampton and Dr. Jim Perry, OD, were absent.             

The next meeting of the TCMH board of trustees is noon Tuesday, Oct. 22, in the downstairs meeting room of the hospital.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply