Category: Health Care

Calming Fears: Jefferson County and UAB Officials Work to Dispel Rumors About New Health Care Authority

The due diligence phase of Jefferson County’s move toward a health care authority was fraught with misinformation, including the rumor that current employees were going to be let go.

“The staff there is doing such a great job, but we need more,” said David Randall, president of the Cooper Green Mercy Health Services Authority. “I think the initial panic was, ‘We’re going to get fired.’”

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

“No, please stay because we need you,” said Randall, a senior vice president of strategic planning and business development at UAB. “I think if anything there was a gap in that we need to add more individuals. (Cooper Green staffers are) doing a great job, lifting a heavy load with the staff that they have. I mean amazing.”

Leaders from UAB and Jefferson County met with media Wednesday to provide an update on the move toward a university health care authority, including trying to dispel misinformation about the action.

County manager Tony Petelos repeated his point that the county is not getting out of the business of health care for its poor population. Rather, he said, the day-to-day operation of the hospital-turned-clinic is being handed over to medical professionals who are better suited for the task. Read more.

Medicare Change a ‘Huge, Significant Thing’ for Alabama

It’s increasingly difficult for rural hospitals to make ends meet. Many have had to freeze or cut salaries, said Danne Howard, chief policy officer with the Alabama Hospital Association. Some have eliminated services, like obstetrics and gynecology. Howard said others partner with outside groups or bigger health systems to take some of the financial pressure off.

“It’s clear to see that we’ve got a number of hospitals that may not survive in the current financial environment,” she said.
In the past decade, seven rural hospitals have closed in Alabama, and of those that remain, 88% operate in the red.

But Howard said Medicare is throwing the state a lifeline. The federal health insurance program, primarily for senior citizens, recently approved a plan to start paying rural hospitals a little more money. Read more.

Jefferson County Owes Medicare and Medicaid More Than $1 Million for Overpayments to Cooper Green Hospital

Jefferson County Commissioners learned during their committee meeting Monday that the county is on the hook for more than $1 million in back payments for Medicare and Medicaid that was overpaid when Cooper Green was a hospital.

The situation was uncovered as the result of an audit ordered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services. The problem dates back to 2008. Read more.