Central Arkansas Medical Centers Collaborate, Compete in Tight Health Care Market

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Apr. 21, 2014 12:00 am  

Banko said it will take a financial crisis by one of the organizations to force a move.

“We’re all prideful and we like what we have,” he said. “We don’t want to give it up.”

But some are already working together.

In March, UAMS and Baptist Health announced they were partnering on a new 24-hour, seven-day-a-week vascular care and surgery service at Baptist Health in Little Rock.

“This latest endeavor is yet another example of changing the way health care is delivered in order to provide excellent patient care,” Russell D. Harrington Jr., president and CEO of Baptist Health, said in the news release that announced the arrangement.

Mark Lowman, a Baptist Health spokesman, said last week in an email to Arkansas Business that Baptist Health “is focused on cost effective and innovative ways to continue to provide quality care and patient safety, improve the health status of Arkansans in the communities we serve, and sustain our long term stability through financial strength.”

Obamacare Effects

Banko said he’s hopeful about the current fiscal year. The patient numbers are up at St. Vincent’s Little Rock hospital over the same period a year ago.

He said that since January, St. Vincent has seen about a 30 percent drop in charity care and bad debt as a result of Arkansas’ “private option.” Under Arkansas’ program, the federal dollars earmarked for the expansion of Medicaid — an optional part of the Affordable Care Act — are instead being used to buy health insurance from private insurers for low-income workers.

The money from patients with the private option doesn’t offset the reductions from Medicare and Medicaid, Banko said, but it’s “been a big help.”

“At the end of June, you’ll be seeing far better numbers than you saw last year,” he said.

He hopes the St. Vincent hospital will break even this year. “I’m not going to predict a profitable year,” Banko said.



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