St. Bernards' Revenue Climbs 8 Percent to $355 Million in 2013

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, May. 26, 2014 12:00 am  

“We’re in a dynamic industry with significant changes going on,” said Chris Barber, CEO of St. Bernards Healthcare.

St. Bernards Healthcare’s efforts to prepare for health care reform seem to be paying off.

“We’re pleased to report that we’ve seen an improvement in patient outcomes as well as we’ve lowered the cost of care for the consumer,” said Chris Barber, the president and CEO of St. Bernards in Jonesboro.

St. Bernards, which operates the 438-bed St. Bernards Medical Center and clinics in northeast Arkansas, saw its net revenue climb 8 percent to $354.6 million for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. It was good enough for No. 26 on Arkansas Business’ list of largest private companies ranked by revenue.

St. Bernards, though, still is navigating the new rules under health care reform.

“We’re in a dynamic industry with significant changes going on,” Barber said.

Hospitals across the country are facing the loss of billions of dollars due to lower reimbursements per patient. To help pay for the Affordable Care Act, the rate of growth in Medicare reimbursements slowed.

“Then we’ve had [the federal budget] sequestration that was laid on top of that,” Barber said. “We’ve been living in that environment for a few years now.”

He said the health system has missed out on $3 million because of sequestration, and the lower reimbursements have meant a total of $16 million in lost revenue.

However, the state’s adoption of the “private option” alternative to Medicaid expansion has helped. St. Bernards is projecting to receive about $8 million more in patient revenue this year than it did in fiscal 2013, Barber said. Under Arkansas’ program, the federal dollars earmarked for expanding Medicaid, an optional part of the Affordable Care Act, are instead being used to buy private health insurance for low-income workers.

To make up for the other lost revenue, though, St. Bernards has added services and plans to add more.

“Part of our mission is to give back to the community, [by] providing Christ-like care to this community through education, treatment and health services,” he said of the nonprofit company.

In addition to dealing with industrywide changes, St. Bernards also has to compete with NEA Baptist Health System of Jonesboro’s new medical campus, which features a 550,000-SF hospital that opened in January. NEA Baptist has said it spent $400 million on construction costs and furnishing the campus, which also includes 212,000 SF of clinic space and a 34,000-SF cancer center.



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