Mar 26, 2010 10:14 PM by David Ortiviz

Health reform to cover hefty charity care expenses

The health care reform is suppose to save hospitals tens of millions of dollars each year. Right now, the major hospitals in Southern Colorado treat patients, even if they don't have insurance and it's running up a big tab.

The cost for treating the uninsured and under insured is hefty according to Rob Ryder, President and CEO and St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo. "It's a lot of money," said Ryder. So far this fiscal year: "We're around to almost $40 million," said Ryder.

Other hospitals are feeling the squeeze too. Last year Penrose St. Francis Health Services spent $63 million in charity care; Memorial Health System $70 million; and Parkview Medical Center $60 million.

"Those sorts of deficits, for a hospital are hard to sustain," said Ryder.

But new health care legislation, shines light at the end of the tunnel. By 2014, all Americans must be insured--which should save hospitals money.

"So we're looking forward to the time when everybody will have some level of insurance, having said that we all anticipate they are going to be reimbursement cuts, particularly in the area of government pay, medicare as an example, so it's not exactly like a windfall," said Ryder.

But Ryder says it should help fix a system that's broken. One out of four patients at St. Mary-Corwin hospital don't have insurance. The hope is, eventually every hospital can eliminate their hefty charity care expenses and spend the money on better care for everyone.

The law does require people above a certain income level to have insurance or pay a penalty. You may recall, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers is joining other attorneys generals in a lawsuit claiming that requirement is unconstitutional.


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