Hospitals prosper despite charity care and challenges

Despite challenging economic times and some financial hits, both University Hospital and Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics showed off strong balance sheets Thursday while providing high levels of indigent care.

In back to back meetings, University’s board and the boards that govern MCG health system saw a rosier than expected financial picture.

Through the first seven months of its fiscal year, University was $2.5 million ahead of budget in income from operations at nearly $8.9 million, more than $6 million ahead of where it was at this time last year, said Chief Financial Officer Dave Belkoski.

It is seeing “growth in both the inpatient and outpatient side,” he said.

Yet University has provided more than $13.1 million in indigent and charity care so far this year, slightly behind or even with the pace last year, when it provided $28.8 million.

MCG health system ended its fiscal year June 30 with a margin of over $22 million, $9 million more than it budgeted. The strong bottom line happened despite getting $6 million less in indigent payments from Georgia and not receiving $4 million in graduate medical education support from the state of South Carolina, which cut out the “border hospitals” such as MCG that treat a lot of South Carolina patients, said Chief Financial Officer Greg Damron.

“Maybe from a political standpoint it was a little easier to make that cut,” he said.

“That’s $10 million that disappeared during the year from two different states,” said David Hefner, the executive vice president for clinical affairs.

The health system was helped by coming in $10 million under budget in salaries and wages, something officials have been consciously trying to reduce, and by seeing more complex, sicker patients. Those patients tend to bring in higher reimbursements and are invaluable for an academic health center like MCG, Damron said.

“Those are teaching cases and they allow us to attract faculty who want to come here to do those cases,” he said.

MCG provided more than $35 million in indigent and charity care.

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