Hospital could gain $800K from new bill

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Mike Marshall knows the financial problems Bryan Whitfield Memorial Hospital faces because of low Medicare reimbursements. Then again, every rural hospital in Alabama has faced the same problem.

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions helped draft legislation earlier this year that could significantly change the way rural hospitals &045; like the one in Demopolis &045; receive payments from Medicare. For that matter, Alabama stands to gain $902 million over the next 10 years.

Marshall, who has served as CEO of Bryan Whitfield hospital for more than a month, has maintained an attitude of changing the things that can be changed in Demopolis.

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Because of that, he is resigned to the fact that he has little influence on issues like the Medicare reimbursement, and he won’t waste his time trying. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean Marshall doesn’t care.

Late last week, Sessions and supporters of the new healthcare bill worked through compromises requested in a conference committee between the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

According to a story last week from the Associated Press, sources have indicated that most in Congress agree that Medicare funding needs to be better distributed in rural areas of the United States. And in the bill, only Texas would receive more money than Alabama.

Arthur Evans, an administrator at Bryan Whitfield, said an analysis of the Medicare reimbursements, which are based on a complex wage-index formula, showed Bryan Whitfield Hospital alone could gain an extra $800,000 a year if the system is changed.

Obviously, Marshall said he and the hospital would welcome the money. At the same time, Marshall is committed to keeping focus on the issues in Marengo County that will bring more patients back to his hospital.

According to Nancy Wall, a spokeswoman for Sessions, the healthcare bill did not move out of conference committee on Friday.