By Associated Press - Sunday, January 3, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Declines in uncompensated care have saved West Virginia hospitals millions of dollars, data compiled by an advocacy group show.

More than two dozen hospitals saved a total of more than $265 million from 2013 to 2014, according to West Virginia Health Care Authority data compiled by West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.

Charleston Area Medical Center’s charity care and bad debt dropped by 47 percent, from $137 million to $72.6 million, Perry Bryant, the group’s founder and former director, told The Charleston Gazette-Mail (

West Virginia University Hospitals’ uncompensated care fell by 54 percent, from $94 million to $43 million.

Six other hospitals saved more than $10 million in uncompensated care. United Hospital Center saved $22.3 million, Cabell Huntington Hospital saved $16.6 million, Berkeley Medical Center saved $15.5 million, Raleigh General saved $12.9 million, Mon General saved $11.5 million, and St. Mary’s Medical Center saved $11.5 million.

Statewide, the cost of uncompensated care was reduced by nearly 40 percent.

“This windfall of savings is an once-in-a-lifetime moment for hospitals to make meaningful changes in the health outcomes of West Virginians,” Bryant said. “If hospitals would direct a fraction of this windfall to fund community efforts, West Virginia could make major strides in reducing obesity, smoking and drug abuse.”

Since the Patient Protection and Afford Care Act expanded coverage in 2013, more than 200,000 West Virginians have obtained health insurance through Medicaid or the health insurance marketplace.

While Medicaid reimburses for health care, that care costs more than the reimbursements, said Renee Cross, vice president of finance for Thomas Health System, which operates Thomas Memorial Hospital and Saint Francis Hospital.

“In fiscal year 2014, Thomas Health System lost almost $10 million on taking care of Medicaid patients,” Cross told the newspaper. “Annually, going forward, we estimate that we will continue to lose more than $8 million taking care of our Medicaid population. Thomas Health System has seen about a 30 percent decline in bad debt and charity care combined, but has seen more than a corresponding increase in Medicaid volume and write-offs. We have to continue focusing on providing quality, compassionate and cost-effective healthcare to all of our patients to ensure the continuation of our mission and ministry by excelling at providing the human touch in healthcare.”

Any benefits from the Medicaid expansion have been offset by cuts to Medicare, Joe Letnaunchyn, president and CEO of the West Virginia Hospital Association, said in a news release.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail,

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