Few Ailing Massachusetts Hospitals Will Get Funding, State Says
"Only a few" of the 27 financially ailing Massachusetts hospitals seeking emergency funding will receive it, the Boston Herald reports. The rest, according to state officials, will not see relief for "months," if at all. The hospitals had requested more than $36 million from the state to sustain services reportedly "in jeopardy." The money sought will draw from a $25 million Medicaid relief fund, which the state approved last year, but only $10 million of the "distressed hospital fund" will be awarded. Hospitals say that their financial troubles stem in part from the cost of providing care for Medicaid patients, the Herald reports. Noting that hospitals provided $150 million more in services than they were paid, Ron Hollander, president of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, warned that there may not be enough resources to go around. "The fund was a well-intentioned attempt to provide some help, but it can only provide a very small part of what our hospitals need," he said.
A state-appointed panel will decide how to apportion the money based on several criteria, including hospitals' financial condition and the types of services at risk. Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair Mark Montigny (D) said, "We must know where we're going long term. All hospitals have concerns, I just want to make sure we don't squander limited resources." The panel is expected to make a final decision in January, but hospitals not granted funding may have to wait until the summer, when the state's next budget will be determined. Meanwhile, the state is hiring a consultant to evaluate its Medicaid reimbursements, with recommended changes based on those findings expected April 1 (Powell, Boston Herald, 12/14).