Thursday, July 20, 2000

Revision to benefit hospital

University to lose less

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        University Hospital would lose about $9 million instead of $12.3 million this year under a revised state proposal to divide a fund that pays hospitals for providing care to the uninsured.

        The Ohio Hospital Care Assurance Program (HCAP) was established in 1988 to help hospitals that serve unusually high numbers of uninsured patients. This year, the fund will share about $523 million, which comes from voluntary hospital taxes and a federal matching grant.

        The fund has been shrinking since 1997. But this year, the Ohio Hospital Association also had proposed changing how the money gets split.

        The proposed changes would have hit “urban safety net” hospitals in Cincinnati and Cleveland particularly hard. That has drawn complaints from hospital officials in both cities, from Cincinnati politicians and others.

        Now, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Serv ices, formerly the Department of Human Services, has proposed a new funding formula that would soften, but not eliminate, the blow.

        University Hospital would get $32.6 million instead of $29.3 million as originally projected. In Cleveland, MetroHealth Medical Center would get $36.4 million instead of $33.8 million. Both systems would still get less than they received in 1999.

        “We can live with this,” said Gail Myers, a spokeswoman for the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati, which includes University, Christ, Jewish, St. Luke and Fort Hamilton hospitals.

        “This is much closer to what we expected, so we should be able to avert any additional layoffs or cuts,” Ms. Myers said.

        A public hearing on the new formula is scheduled for Aug. 15 in Columbus.


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