Public hearing on proposed fee increases at GMH heard this morni - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Public hearing on proposed fee increases at GMH heard this morning

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GUAM - A trip to the emergency room for a broken bone would cost double if proposed fee increases on all services take effect.

The numbers at a glance, your bill would reflect a whopping $500 from the original $71 to visit the E.R., $82 compared to today's $70 to send your X-ray to radiology, another $50 bucks from today's $28 to have a radiologist review your X-ray, and lastly $336 in E.R. doctor fees compared to today's $250.

But the island's insurance companies aren't buying it and vocalized opposition at today's public hearing.

Staywell insurance's Francis Santos exclaimed, "Theres some really outrageous fees and this will definitely impact our rates and what we offer to our groups out there in the private sector and also in the government sector now that Staywell is one of the plans now being offered to government employees."
 
Takecare's Tim Ogata says it's too much too fast. Ultimately, Ogata predicts the end result would be most detrimental to the hospital itself.
 
 
"And in turn less people are going to be able to afford that rate increase. So they go to the uninsured side now and that's going to hurt our GMH community as well" Ogata revealed.
 
But GMH Chief Financial Officer Alan Ulrich ensures they're not out to target insurance companies.
 
"We are not looking for the insurance companies to cover the full cost. You're only 25-percent of our business right now and our revenues that are projected for 2014 insurers are only assumed 30-percent of the increase -- we are not looking for you. We are looking at Medicare going up 5-10 million dollars. We're looking at Medicaid and MIP going up to 5-10 million dollars. We're looking at collections of self-pay going from 3 million to 6 million, 7 million" Ulrich reasoned.
 
GMH Administrator Joseph Verga has also considered the doomsday scenario as the Guam Regional Medical City is set to open doors next summer. He anticipates the for-profit hospital's fees to reflect that of mainland hospitals.
 
"Even if insurance patients that we had goes to GRMC, that's about 30-million dollars or so in revenue a year they're certainly not going to exist at a private hospital where they have to pay investors at 30-million dollars a year. But more importantly with a private for profit hospital, their charges, I'm just throwing out a rhetorical question, do you think their charges are going to equate to GMH's charges now?" Verga acknowledged.
 
Using the recent implementation of the Guam Power Authority's smart meter as an example, Vice Speaker BJ Cruz hopes GMH will do a better job at cleaner billing.
 
"I've complained about my rate going up and one of the CCU members brought me down my sheet -- he broke down every single thing - what in the house was using what. That's all I'm saying. Get it so that you have a clean bill -- so there's no question about where and what is being charged" the Vice Speaker demanded.

 Reminding today's attendees that the legislature remains committed to recovering the hospital's flat lined finances, Committee Chair on healthcare senator Dennis Rodriguez Jr. inquired, "I think its very important to note that in the 2014 budget that was just signed into law that this is probably one of the first times that the legislature has recognized and said you know we need to increase funding to the hospital."
 
The GMH board of trustees will review the fee-setting methodology and fees at its next meeting on September 26.
 
 
Verga added, "Ultimately what we bring to you may have a different face than what it has now. And we will certainly take what you had to heart and go back to the drawing board and give it some more thought."

 

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