Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Colorado budget proposal could cost rural and remote hospitals millions needed to stay afloat

A proposal by Colorado lawmakers to balance the state budget would cause about a dozen rural and remote hospitals to lose millions "by trimming hospital payments for uncompensated care," John Ingold and John Frank report for The Denver Post. "The latest projections show the largest cuts in dollar terms are felt along the Front Range at large hospitals that treat the most patients on Medicaid."

Analysis by the Colorado Hospital Association "identified at least 10 hospitals, most of them in remote parts of the state, at risk for significant reductions in services, staff or facility upgrades under the proposed budget," the Post reports. "And several could face potential closure in the next few years if the payment cuts continue."

Hugo, Colo. (Best Places map)
For Lincoln Community Hospital in Hugo, the proposed budget would mean cuts to services, layoffs and fear of the facility shuttering, reports the Post. It is the only hospital on the Interstate 70 corridor between the Denver metro area and Burlington, near the Kansas border, and draws patients from more than an hour away, the Post says.

In 2015, Lincoln Community finished with $150,000 at the end of the year, the Post reports. "The books are still being finalized for 2016, but officials hope to break even. And next year doesn’t look good." The Colorado Hospital Association analysis estimates that Lincoln Community would lose $283,000 under the state budget plan for the year starting July 1. A separate state analysis pegs it closer to a $300,000 reduction from the prior year."

"Three of every four Colorado hospitals are looking at cuts in payments from the provider fee program under the current budget plan, according to the association’s projections set for release Monday, with the average hit a 50 percent reduction from a year ago," the Post reports. "An effort to revamp the program to protect hospitals is stuck in the political mud after negotiations between Democrats and Republicans broke down last week. But the new analysis is expected to add urgency to the debate before the session ends May 10."

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