Changes in hospital payments for treating indigents postponed

Potential changes in how the state distributes money to hospitals that care for the indigent have been put on hold for a year to give the parties time to work out a compromise.

Health Care Financing and Policy Administrator Charles Duarte told the Senate Finance Committee on Monday that SB382 was introduced to make changes his office believes are necessary under federal rules which took effect in January.

The problem is that the current state Disproportion-

ate Share Hospital program runs out of money after funding just a few hospitals.

Carson Valley Hospital and four Southern Nevada hospitals " Sunrise, Valley Medical, Summerlin and Spring Valley " would get nothing even though eligible for a share. All are private hospitals.

Changing the formula, however, would reduce the amount of money that goes to the two largest recipients " University Medical Center in Las Vegas and Renown in Reno.

The plan as proposed does not include any reduction to the $1 million a year Carson-Tahoe receives under the DSH program.

DSH funding for this fiscal year consists of $60.7 million from Clark County, $44.8 million in federal money and $1.5 million from Washoe County.

Under the existing formula, UMC gets back $78 million and Renown $5.1 million with the rest spread among 11 smaller hospitals around the state.

After those bills are paid, the state gets the more than $18 million left and Duarte said his agency uses it to leverage more money for Medicaid.

Clark County officials fear any significant change in the formula would leave UMC getting back less than Clark County puts in the pot. Smaller recipients also were concerned with any attempt to change the system since the money is a major offset to their costs in treating the indigent.

Duarte said the various parties wanted to put any decision off for at least 12 months to make sure any change is thoroughly examined.

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