July 14, 2024
Colorado anticipated to broaden its assist for rural hospitals – State of Reform

A panel of Colorado’s rural healthcare leaders outlined insurance policies and funding alternatives that may assist the state’s rural hospital system on Wednesday in the course of the Well being Cupboard Affordability Summit, a digital occasion led by the Division of Well being Care Coverage and Financing (HCPF).


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Colorado has prioritized rural hospital funding round transformation and innovation, notably round telemedicine and investments. The Hospital Transformation Program (HTP), which ties supplier fee-funded Medicaid funds to quality-based initiatives, has been working to redirect supplemental funds towards supply mannequin transformation no matter payer protection kind. 

Nancy Dolson, HCPF particular financing division director, stated half of HTP’s $60 million Rural Help Fund has been invested in bettering rural and important entry hospitals, together with ongoing assist for the administration of rising cost methodologies.  

“The Workplace of eHealth Innovation is investing $17.4 million to attach rural suppliers to well being data exchanges, which helps suppliers trade data [and] enhance affected person care and outcomes,” Dolson stated. “And moreover, the governor’s finances proposed $10 million in stimulus funding to assist rural hospital entry and affordability initiatives that was handed by the legislature and has been managed by HCPF and an advisory committee. And yesterday, we’re happy to launch the applying for rural hospitals to use for the Rural Supplier Entry and Affordability Stimulus Grants.”

The Rural Supplier Entry and Affordability Stimulus Grant Program, which the legislature handed final session, will award $10 million to certified rural hospitals towards bettering healthcare entry and affordability. This system provides rural hospitals the chance to use for as much as $650,000 in funding to enhance areas comparable to well being data expertise. 

Michelle Mills, CEO of Colorado Rural Well being Heart, stated many rural communities wrestle with with the ability to afford, improve, and preserve digital medical information and substitute outdated medical tools. 

“We’ve at present 16 rural hospitals of the 43 which can be working within the purple proper now, which is down from the 22 that existed final 12 months,” Mills stated.  However largely that’s as a result of COVID funding that got here in and we undoubtedly perceive that there’s this tsunami that’s coming when COVID funds finish.”

Mills stated 75% of the funding for a rural hospital comes from their outpatient clinic, with a median day by day inpatient census between one to a few sufferers. 

Benjamin Anderson, vice chairman of rural well being and hospitals on the Colorado Hospital Affiliation (CHA), introduced the launch of the affiliation’s technique for supporting rural healthcare supply. CHA is centering the technique round three approaches: rural advocacy for coverage and long-term monetary viability, collaborative capability constructing, and transformational board management. 

Anderson stated the affiliation was taking a holistic view round strengthening rural hospitals by addressing board management range to extra precisely mirror the communities the boards are serving. 

Kevin Stansbury, chair of CHA’s board and CEO of Lincoln Neighborhood Hospital within the rural metropolis of Hugo, cited 4 points leaders in rural and frontier well being have been confronted with, that are discovering methods to ship important providers locally, having ample workforce to take action, sustaining the ample revenue margins to stay viable, and getting access to capital. 

“It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that [rural and frontier] prices incrementally are typically greater than these within the urbans,” Stansbury stated. “We’re usually unbiased hospitals. We don’t have the bargaining energy essentially to barter with the drug corporations or with medical tools corporations, and so what we’re working to do is to attempt to collaborate collectively to search out modern ways in which we will look to enhance high quality, improve entry, and convey the price of healthcare down in rural settings.

Whereas our value—once more, comparatively talking as a proportion of our general value—could also be greater for administrative, I’d submit that our general prices per affected person discharge are typically decrease. There’s loads that goes into that, however we’re very conscious of these issues and dealing actually exhausting to search out methods to scale back these prices.”