Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 12, 2011

W.Va. approves higher rates at 10 hospitals

Associated Press

CHARLESTON (AP) — Patients at 10 West Virginia hospitals who pay out of pocket or with commercial insurance can expect higher bills next year.

The Charleston Gazette ( reports that the Health Care Authority recently approved rate increases ranging from less 1 percent to more than 7 percent.

The highest inpatient rate increase — 7.48 percent — was for Jackson General Hospital in Ripley, followed by 6.75 percent at Thomas Memorial in South Charleston. That means the cost of an average stay for non-governmental patients will be $16,413 at Thomas in fiscal 2012 and $14,346 at Jackson.

Other rate increases include:

—Wheeling Hospital — 6 percent, to an average of $15,590;

—Cabell Huntington Hospital — 4.6 percent, to $27,376;

—St. Mary’s Medical Center in Huntington — 5 percent, to $25,347;

—Pleasant Valley Hospital in Point Pleasant — 4.5 percent, to $11,746;

—Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Weston — 2.3 percent, to $9,209;

—St. Joseph Hospital in Buckhannon — 4 percent, to $12,352;

—Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Glen Dale — 3.4 percent, to $11,470; and

—Saint Francis Hospital in Charleston — 0.9 percent, to $23,660.

Charlie Covert, chief financial officer of Thomas Health System, said he’s seeing more uninsured and underinsured patients than in the past. The hospital also struggles with inadequate reimbursement from governmental payers, he said.

“We traditionally have received more than a 3 percent increase per year from Medicare and, this year, we are receiving less than 2 percent,” he said. “This is a significant impact, considering the volume of patients.”

Jackson General’s chief financial officer, Angela Frame, said uncompensated care for uninsured patients and employees contributes to the burden on the Ripley hospital. Frame said 76 percent of Jackson’s patients have Medicare, Medicaid or other governmental insurance.

“Ultimately,” she said, “only 12 percent of patients are affected by the rate increase.”