CEO Update: Barbie

CEO Update: Barbie

I love Barbie and she’s everywhere!  Growing up, I had countless hours of entertainment, playing and pretending.  And who knew that all it took was a Barbie movie and Taylor Swift ticket prices to bring out strong opinions from our politicians?  Instead of conversations about the entertainment industry, we need real conversations about the financial state of rural health.

Currently, based on Q3 2022 data, 16 rural hospitals in Colorado are operating in the red (that number is down from 22 last year, but we know a tsunami is coming).  Pandemic funds that were keeping healthcare facilities afloat are ending and normal reimbursement rates are returning. These reimbursement rates are not sustainable when you serve a community facing numerous challenges.

In rural Colorado our communities are made up of people that primarily have Medicare and Medicaid insurance with smaller amounts of private insurance, meaning the majority of allowable payment is below the cost of providing care.  You don’t have to be a financial wizard to figure out that math doesn’t work.  The rising prices for goods and services make running a healthcare facility whose mission is to serve all even more difficult.

In the coming year, people will be losing Medicaid insurance they became eligible for under the Pandemic and it’s concerning that they might become uninsured or underinsured.  Did you know that when a patient has a high deductible plan goes to the emergency room at the rural hospital and needs to be transferred to a higher level of care due the nature of the injury, that many patients can’t afford the deductible?  This is terrible for the patient as costs mount and this is equally as terrible for the rural hospital because they don’t get reimbursed. However, by the time the patient reaches the urban facility, the deductible has been met and the insurance company pays the urban facility.  The result? Bad debt.

Can you see the problem with sustainability?  This problem needs to be fixed and rural communities need to be an integral part of the conversation, as one size fits all will not work.  If you are interested in talking and participating in this conversation, please join us at CRHC’s Annual Conference October 4-6, 2023 where will have 3 keynote speakers.  If you also want to have a conversation about Barbie, we can do that as well!


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