KU hospital, medical school reorganizing

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The University of Kansas hospital and medical school will undergo their first major reorganization in 17 years in response to changes in health care, even though the hospital’s future is threatened unless Kansas expands it Medicaid services, the Kansas Board of Regents heard.

Between now and July 1, 18 clinical organizations at the University of Kansas Medical Center — one of each academic department — will be merged into one organization overseen by the University of Kansas Hospital Authority, which has a 19-member board mostly appointed by the governor, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/1AKHz2N ).

“To the outside person, you will probably notice nothing. But this is a massive reorganization,” said Doug Girod, executive vice chancellor of the medical center, which operates separately from the university hospital.

Girod told the Regents the reorganization will ease treatment for patients who need to see doctors from multiple disciplines. It also will streamline such things as billing and record keeping.

Even with the improvements, the university hospital and most hospitals in the state face financial troubles because Kansas has refused to expand Medicaid services as allowed under the Affordable Care Act, Girod said.

The health care act expands Medicaid coverage to more people through Medicaid and subsidized private insurance sold through state and federal exchanges. The increased cost of care was to be partially offset by reduced payments to hospitals through Medicare, Girod said.

Hospitals were supposed to break even because of significant reductions in the cost of uncompensated care for people without insurance. But because the state of Kansas has chosen not to expand its Medicaid services, hospitals are receiving reduced Medicare reimbursements without a corresponding reduction in uncompensated care, he said.

“The state of Kansas actually grew faster than any other state in the United States last year, over 12 percent growth in uncompensated care,” Girod said.

Bob Page, president and CEO of the University of Kansas Hospital, said it lost more than $100 million in Medicare reimbursements last year and expects to have another $95 million in cuts in the next five years. Uncompensated care at the hospital totaled $59 million in 2013.

Gov. Sam Brownback is opposed to expanding Medicaid in Kansas because he doesn’t believe the federal government will continue paying for it in future years, which would increase the state’s costs. And the Kansas Legislature last year prohibited the governor from expanding Medicaid without legislative approval.

 

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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