Little Rock For many top executives and CEO’s it easy to imagine that running a big urban nonprofit hospital has been a sweet gig. Looking at some of the 990’s that all nonprofits submit to the IRS annually, salaries in the millions are not unusual at some of these big hospitals and many make millions all down the corporate flow chart. They are big whoops in their local communities with thousands of jobs and money to spend and, hey, for all that the regular folks out there know — they’re doing fine, while doing good. Luckily for their patients and the whole community, their world is going to have to change.
The amount of money St. Luke’s receives from Medicaid is an indication that St. Luke’s provides care to a large number of Medicaid patients. In fact, St. Luke’s provides more care to patients covered by Medicaid than any other health care provider in the state. Medicaid pays hospitals well below the cost of providing care to Medicaid patients. The costs that count for Medicaid purposes do not include all of the hospitals costs, so the reimbursement is even less on a percentage basis than it would appear. Because Medicaid pays below cost, a higher volume of Medicaid funding results in lower net revenue for the hospital. In other words, on balance, St. Luke’s pays to see Medicaid patients because we spend more on the care of the patient than we receive in payment for the care we provide.
What a unique argument! St. Luke’s “pays” to see the poor, because they believe that Medicaid reimbursement rates are low compared to their view
of their market pricing.
In a similar bit of double-speak, St. Luke’s communicates in totally imperial and oblique terms their collection policy for the poor Idahoan
that cannot pay the sticker price.
If a patient has difficulty paying their medical expenses, St. Luke’s Patient Financial Services works with them to determine what options are available for assistance, including a possible payment plan. If it is determined that a patient can pay all, or a portion, of their medical bills but chooses not to do so, St. Luke’s refers those accounts to a collection agency to help collect payment from patients. St. Luke’s may charge interest on outstanding accounts depending on the circumstances.