Veterans Memorial Hospital notes positive April, keeping tabs on Medicaid change

by Brianne Eilers

The month of April ended on a positive note for Veterans Memorial Hospital (VMH)in Waukon. Acute patient days were down 14.3%, but skilled patient days were up 11.4%. Deliveries were also down from last year, 13.3%, but VMH administrator Mike Myers noted that last year was “a record year” for deliveries at VMH.
Outpatient services were up in nearly every area, except for physical therapy, which was down 13.8%. Total surgeries were slightly under by 1.9%. Emergency room visits were up 10% and cardiac rehabilitation is up 24.1%.
“Overall, we had a very good month,” Myers said. “Our month was made by a strong outpatient lab and radiology.” Expenses were up 3.8%, while total operating revenue was up 4.4%. The hospital ended April 2015 with a net income of $95,569, which gave them a 6.5% operating margin for the month of April. Year-to-date, VMH has a net income of $382,885, which translates to a 2.8% operating margin.
The number of days in Accounts Receivable has gone up some to 91.9. Myers attributed this to training employees and getting some charts done. They hope to have that back down again soon. VMH has $2,622,000 in cash reserves.
In other matters, as noted last month, VMH received its State survey results and has instituted a plan of corrections to correct any issues that were found during the survey. The hospital is expecting the State Fire Marshal to come back this week to finalize the last of the correction issues.
The concrete pad for the MRI truck has been poured and is ready for the truck, which now bears the VMH logo. Myers attended the American Hospital Association annual meeting in Washington, D.C. There he and others met with the Senators and House healthcare aides, as the House of Representatives was not in session. Some of the topics of concern to rural health care were the 96-Hour Rule, physician supervision requirement and the two midnight rule. Myers also noted another bill they hope to see that was not addressed at this time is for the Site Neutral Issue.
Myers also noted that Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will be putting the State’s Medicaid program into managed care. Myers said that the State’s healthcare industry is watching this closely because about two-thirds of Medicaid recipients are children and women, with the remaining third being comprised of the elderly and chronically ill. “The concern is they are going to cut reimbursement to providers to pay for this,” Myers noted.
The projected date for this to be ready is January 1, 2016, but Myers said he didn’t know if everything would be in place for that. “That’s a lot of people and a lot of dollars to have in place by then,” he said. He noted that VMH, as with other hospitals, is anticipating seeing its charity care and bad debt to rise with this implementation. “The only way you save money by doing managed care is to have a really low reimbursement or denying payment for services, and so we are watching that closely to see what the total impact will be,” he said.