To qualify for some or all of that money, the hospital must raise as much as $420,000, and one-third of the overall amount has to come from local sources. Each dollar, in turn, would be matched by two more dollars from Medicaid’s Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program.
The hospital can’t chip in with its own contributions, so the facility’s administrators turned to the Grand County Council on Sept. 3 for its support.
They haven’t gotten it – at least not yet.
The problem, from the council’s perspective, is that the county is already several months into its current fiscal year.
If the hospital’s request had come sooner, county officials could have opted to set some money aside. But at this stage, they’d have to dip into the county’s general fund in order to cover an unbudgeted expense, county council members said.
Last year, the council did just that, taking $195,000 out of the county’s main operating fund.
However, county council member Elizabeth Tubbs is now asking the hospital to hand over financial information before she makes a decision on the latest request.
In particular, Tubbs said she wants to know how many patients benefitted from the last infusion of DSH money.
The program reimburses hospitals that treat large numbers of low-income and uninsured patients, thereby helping to offset the costs of uncompensated medical care.
Without the DSH funding, Moab Regional Hospital’s total net loss for the last three years could have topped $4.25 million, according to documents hospital officials provided to the county council.
“It was probably the major source of improvement in the hospital’s [financial] position,” MRH CEO Robb Austin said Sept. 3.
In the past, the hospital succeeded in raising additional seed money from the Moab City Council, as well as private donors.
As of last week, the hospital had secured $30,000, along with $100,000 in pledges from private donors, during its latest fundraising drive.
But the likelihood that donors will continue to step up as they have in the past is extremely low, according to the documents provided by the hospital.
Austin said that aside from additional fundraising activities, the hospital has no other choice but to seek the county’s help.
If MRH doesn’t submit the seed money by Nov. 29, the hospital stands to lose the DSH funding, he said.