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Council hears update from HCH

Harrison County Hospital representatives Monday night updated the county council on its financial and operating status.
As a county-owned hospital, the council requested at least a yearly update from the hospital board or hospital representatives.
It was also a stipulation of the debt reduction additional appropriation of $8 million the council approved in 2010 for the hospital.
According to a fact sheet handed out by Steve Taylor, the hospital’s CEO, starting in 2002 the local economy suffered job and health benefits loss. Indigent care (charity care and bad debt) has increased from $2 million in 2002 to $10 million in 2014 and $7 million in 2015. Medicare write-offs increased from $1 million in 2000 to $20 million-plus in 2015.
‘These reduced reimbursement trends mean fewer funds for HCH’s mission-driven services,’ it said.
Although much of the hospital industry has suffered from utilization/revenue declines and reimbursement problems, Taylor said, HCH generated positive cash flows of $3 million in 2014 and nearly $2 million in 2015.
‘Cash reserves were more than $15 million at 2015 year end,’ he said.
Harrison County Hospital is a fully-accredited Critical Access Hospital that operates to serve the community’s health care needs and, secondarily, to provide economic activity that benefits the local economy.
In 2015, HCH earned a National Medicare Four Star quality designation from positive patient satisfaction feedback.
Taylor said less than 35 percent of all U.S. hospitals earned a four-star rating and only 3 to 4 percent earned a five-star rating.
‘I think we’re the only four-star in the metro Louisville area,’ he said.
The hospital employs 580 people and 35 full-time doctors and mid-level providers.
‘Recruitment and retention of a quality medical staff has long been one of the most difficult challenges for small hospitals,’ Taylor said. ‘We’ve been fortunate in that regard.’
When asked about the impact the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) had on HCH, CFO Jeff Davis said it is hard to say, but, overall, he thought it helped ‘a little bit’ and it hasn’t been a disaster for HCH.
Davis said not many people around here have jumped on the public health exchange.
Taylor said it just depends on which hospital is answering the question.
‘Norton hated it, and Leitchfield (Ky.) loved it,’ he said.
More people are being served, Taylor said, but with only 22 to 25 cents on the dollar paid for through Medicare, it makes it difficult for hospitals, especially the large ones.
‘Charity care has really expanded,’ he said.
In other business, the council voted to remain bonded (at a cost of $300) with a 4-3 vote. Those against were Councilmen Gary Davis, Kyle Nix and Jim Heitkemper.
Previously, Heitkemper made a motion to not approve the council’s bond, but it died with a lack of a second.
The council also set its financial planning and job classification/description committees with Davis, Councilwoman Sherry Brown and Councilman Richard Gerdon as members.
The council’s next meeting will be Monday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.