County sets fund rate to help with $32M in uncompensated care costs

Jerrie Whiteley, Herald Democrat
On Tuesday, Grayson County Commissioners set a mandatory payment rate of 2.25 percent for fiscal year 2018 for the institutional health care providers’ 2015 net patient revenue. Grayson County Health Department Amanda Ortez said approximately $4.2 million was transferred from the Grayson County Local Provider Participation Fund to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in 2017. Hospitals in Grayson County continue to experience a loss of over $32 million dollars associated with uncompensated care costs. (Herald Democrat)

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct the fee percentage the county charged area hospitals last year to help pay for uncompensated care costs. The fee was 1.25 percent of patient revenue collected last year.

Grayson County Commissioners recently set the rate at which local hospitals will pay into a program aimed at bringing more health care dollars back to the county’s major medical providers.

Last year, the county approved a program that charges all four local hospitals a 1.25 percent fee on the amount of patient revenue they collect each year. The county then turned that money into the state and the state turned it over to the federal government, who would sent back to the hospitals an amount to help pay for uncompensated care.

On Tuesday, commissioners set a mandatory payment rate of 2.25 percent for fiscal year 2018 for the institutional health care providers' 2015 net patient revenue. The money collected from those payments from each hospital in Grayson County will be deposited into the Grayson County Local Provider Participation Fund. The money in that fund will then go to the federal government through the state.

Grayson County Health Department Amanda Ortez said approximately $4.2 million was transferred from the Grayson County Local Provider Participation Fund to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in 2017. The expected return is estimated to be $8.6 million. The total amount of the payments to be received from all paying hospitals for 2018 will be approximately $8.2 million, considering the mandatory payment rate of 2.25 percent. Hospitals in Grayson County continue to experience a loss of over $32 million dollars associated with uncompensated care costs.

“According to previous estimates received by HHSC in August 2017, the impact for Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center was slightly over $11.8 million and the impact for (Texoma Medical Center) was just over $21 million,” Ortez said via email. “This monetary loss is associated with caring for our county's most vulnerable population, those that are uninsured and those on Medicaid. Since Medicaid only covers a portion of the cost associated with treating each enrolled patient, the remaining outstanding amount is recognized as uncompensated care costs.”

Ortez said having the ability to recoup even of portion of those uncompensated care monetary losses will assist local hospitals with continuing to provide quality health care services to the community.

Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said the numbers provided by Ortez show that local hospitals are losing more money each year than the county's entire $30 million budget.

“That to me is an amazing number,” Magers said, adding it is important for people to know that the hospitals pay into the fund and it is not subsidized by the county. “These hospitals are not making money on this program they are just simply recovering some of their losses.”

Magers applauded Ortez and the hospitals who brought the program to the court's attention last year. Ortez, in turn, thanked Grayson County Auditor Richey Rivers and Treasurer Gayla Hawkins for their help with the numbers.