Doctors, retailers and hospitals have been opening urgent care facilities or walk-in clinics to lure patients with non-life-threatening injuries away from hospital emergency rooms in a trend that has been slow to arrive in Arkansas.
Arkansas became the first southern state to expand its Medicaid program in a way that many Republicans found acceptable. Now Arkansas could be on the brink of another distinction: becoming the first to abandon its Medicaid expansion after giving coverage to thousands.
Directors of Crittenden Regional Hospital learned on Aug. 19 that its monthly revenue was only $2 million — about half what they had previously been led to believe — while expenses were about $5 million, the CEO of the shuttered hospital revealed in a bankruptcy court filing.
The Arkansas Hospital Association is in the process of surveying members about the immediate impact of the swarm of newly insured Arkansans, but Executive Vice President Paul Cunningham said the results would probably not be available for another month.
The Arkansas Medical Society and the Arkansas Hospital Association don’t see eye-to-eye on new legislation that deals with physician peer reviews. Last month, Baptist Health of Little Rock, Mercy Health System of Chesterfield, Missouri, which operates six hospitals in Arkansas, and Washington Regional Medical Center of Fayetteville filed a lawsuit in Pulaski County Circuit Court challenging the constitutionality of the Peer Review Fairness Act of 2013.
While nine of the 11 health care organizations on Arkansas Business’ list of the largest private companies reported an increase in revenue in 2013, none of them had an increase of more than 9 percent. And five of the companies had increases of less than 2 percent.
Davy Carter, speaker of the Arkansas House of Representatives, said he thinks legislators will hold their noses and vote to continue funding the “private option” Medicaid expansion during the fiscal session that begins Feb. 10.
Bo Ryall joined the Arkansas Hospital Association in 2005 and has been its president since 2010. He has served as chief lobbyist on the state level for Arkansas hospitals and was previously executive director of the HomeCare Association of Arkansas.
On the annual checkup of hospitals, 34 out of the 88 hospitals on this year’s list — 38 percent — reported losing money, which is slightly higher than last year’s list, which showed 35 percent of the hospitals losing money.