Rural hospitals safe after passage of new bill

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) -- Colorado’s rural hospitals will still be able to provide the care we've all come to expect. After more than $5 million in proposed budget cuts, a bill was introduced to try and keep funding flowing to hospital provider fee.

"The provider fee was set up to use hospital dollars to leverage matching federal dollars to enhance our Medicaid program," said Chris Thomas, the CEO of Community Hospital.

After voting on Senate Bill 267, Sustainability of Rural Colorado, the fate of our Grand Valley hospitals has been decided. The bill passed, meaning no hospitals in the state will be forced to take cuts in any area.

"2016 we received about $12 million back from state and federal government,” said Brian Davidson, President of St. Mary’s Hospital. “We anticipated we lose about half of that, we anticipated losing about $6 million."

Medicaid patients and their technologies would have been hit the hardest.

"Based on how many Medicaid patients and the severity of illness of the Medicaid patients. About one in four patients we take care of has Medicaid as their primary insurance provider," said Davidson.

This is because Medicaid does not cover the full cost of care in most hospitals.

"So the dollars that the hospital sends in were matched by dollars from the feds that then went into the Medicaid program to help reimbursement for Medicaid patients," said Thomas.

Senate Bill 267 will help all hospitals in the state.

"It offers reliability, stability for us here at St. Mary’s and all Colorado hospitals, to plan into the future,” said Davidson.

Making sure all staff, equipment, and programs stay intact.

"We support health and wellness throughout the community, we support CMU, we support the school district, we support girls on the run and soccer,” said Thomas.

Between St. Mary’s and Community Hospital, the two would have lost nearly $6 million dollars.

“We will be better able to calculate on an annual basis based on how many Medicaid patients we take care of and the severity of their illness and injury,” said Davidson.

Both hospitals say if they did have to make cuts, it would not have negatively impacted patients. They still would have treated all patients who came in. The cuts would have been made elsewhere throughout the hospital.

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