Vermont hospitals seek rate bump amid financial losses

Some Vermont hospitals are requesting a significant increase of the rate they charge insurers as they struggle financially, according to Vermont Public Radio.

A Green Mountain Care Board presentation — based on hospital submissions and cited by the radio network — shows six hospitals in the state expect to lose money in fiscal year 2019. Northwestern Medical Center in St. Albans expects to end the year with a deficit of more that $4.7 million, while Copley Hospital in Morrisville expects a deficit of $1.3 million.

Given these expected deficits, some hospitals are asking for rate increases from the care board, a regulatory group responsible for controlling healthcare costs in the state, according to Vermont Public Radio.

Most hospitals are requesting rate increases of 3.5 percent or below for fiscal year 2020, including Porter Medical Center in Middlebury, part of the University of Vermont Health Network, and Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center in Windsor, which merged with Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Lebanon, N.H.

But some stand-alone hospitals are seeking higher increases. Copley Hospital seeks an overall rate increase of 9.8 percent, and Northwestern Medical Center seeks an overall rate increase of 5.9 percent. North Country Hospital in Newport seeks an overall rate increase of 4.2 percent.

"When you have a cap of 3.5 percent, and you already are working at a very high productivity level using lean strategies, then it becomes extremely challenging when you have this really tight gap of what you can have for a net patient revenue, and what the cost of doing business is," Northwestern Medical Center CEO Jill Berry Bowen told Vermont Public Radio. "The lines are crossing."

The board will hold its annual budget review and rate increase hearings this month, and final decisions regarding requested rate increases are slated for September.

Read the full Vermont Public Radio report here.


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