Luis Hospital: 12.5% more for outpatient procedures
Published: February 14, 2013
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ST. CROIX - The Luis Hospital board voted to implement a 12.5 percent rate increase for outpatient procedures during its regular board meeting Wednesday.
The board also approved a contingency plan that involved eliminating certain contracts for services - or reducing them - to accommodate a 5 percent cut to its government allocations.
The rate increase - which involves only outpatient procedures - is aimed at increasing revenues and cash collections, officials said. The proposal led to some discussion and disagreement among board members.
Board member Imelda Dizon said she strongly objects to the rate hike, pointing out that the island still is in an economic crisis and that in the wake of HOVENSA ceasing refining operations, fewer residents have health insurance.
She recommended that the hospital try to raise revenues now through other means and revisit the possibility of a rate increase in six months.
Dizon said she felt the rate increase might drive people away, sending those with insurance - and the means to travel - off-island for care.
Board member Joyce Heyliger said that she might have agreed with Dizon - except for the fact that the government has hit the cash-strapped hospital with a plan to decrease its allotment.
Interim Chief Executive Officer Dr. Kendall Griffith said that the hospital has been depending on revenue from inpatients but that outpatient procedures can be major revenue-generators.
"That's what's going to take us, hopefully, into the black," Griffith said.
Board chairwoman Kye Walker said the financially struggling hospital needs the money and that the money mostly will come from insurance companies.
Member Dr. Anthony Ricketts said he believes the hospital needs to back up the rate increase with improvements in services that enhance patient perception of the outpatient experience.
Walker, Heyliger and Ricketts voted to increase the rates effective immediately. Dizon and Wallace Phaire, who joined the meeting by telephone, voted no.
Officials also said they plan to make their case to the governor in an attempt to avoid the 5 percent cut to the hospital's government allocation that the Office of Management and Budget intends to implement starting March 1 through the end of the fiscal year. The Office of Management and Budget is doing so with all agencies in an attempt to bridge a projected budget shortfall.
"That 5 percent is going to hurt. There's no doubt about that," Griffith said.
The 5 percent reduction amounts to $561,256 total for the hospital, Walker said. The amount factors out to $80,218 per month that the hospital won't be getting, and the hospital cannot afford the cut but has come up with a contingency plan in case, she said.
The contingency plan would cut certain contracts, resulting in a savings of $971,490, she said. The board approved the contingency plan.
In other action, the board:
- Passed a resolution adding Griffith as a certifying officer for the hospital and removing former CEO Jeff Nelson.
- Approved the process of starting to pay an invoice from The Stone House Group of $138,238.
- Approved buying two pieces of equipment for the Diagnostic Imaging Department for $175,000.
- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email email@example.com.