Community Hospital of Long Beach Gets State Medicare Clearance
The new Community Hospital of Long Beach received certification last Monday from the Department of Health Services to receive Medicare reimbursements, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports. But the hospital, which reopened last month under new ownership after a nine-month closure, "won't see the money" until federal approval comes through, expected in "another three to four weeks." Before last week, the hospital was "essentially ... treating Medicare patients for free," spending about $750,000; the Press-Telegram reports that Medicare accounts for the hospital's largest portion of patients. Betty Keller, chair of the hospital board, said the hospital has left positions of part-time employees unfilled to compensate for the extra costs, and other employees are "doubling-up" shifts in order to save money. If the federal approval comes through, which state officials say is "pretty much a formality," the hospital will be reimbursed for care to Medicare patients retroactive to last Monday. While Community officials had the option of waiting for Medicare certification before opening the hospital, they decided to open early to "fill a void" created when the hospital closed last September. Since reopening in late June, the hospital has cared for about 700 patients, averaging nearly 40 patients per day in the emergency room. According to the Press-Telegram, the hospital is now looking at ways to bring more patients in through "arrangements" with local medical providers. Other plans include increased staffing and fundraising efforts by the hospital's not-for-profit foundation (Gewirtz, Long Beach Press-Telegram, 7/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.