Kern Medical Center Breaks Even for Fiscal Year
Officials for Kern Medical Center announced that the hospital broke even for the fiscal year ending June 30 and that they expect the hospital to post similar financial results in the current fiscal year, the Bakersfield Californian reports. KMC posted losses in the three previous fiscal years, including a $10 million loss in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2003. KMC CEO Peter Bryan said that the hospital improved its finances in part by using the consulting firm Superior Contracting to increase cash collection by about 7% in the most recent fiscal year. Superior receives a percentage of debts collected. The hospital also used another commission-based consulting firm to decrease the number of uninsured patients by helping enroll more people in Medi-Cal, which can be a "paper-intensive, sometimes intimidating process for patients," according to the Californian.
Despite the "good news," county administrators are not "done worrying about the public hospital's bottom line," the Californian reports. With a projected operating budget for the current fiscal year of $194 million, KMC "remains the county's biggest funding challenge," Scott Jones, Kern's chief administrator, said. He added, "Because of the magnitude of dollars here, if there's a shortfall, it very easily can spill over and affect the county general fund." KMC has borrowed about $40 million from the county general fund since 2002 and still owes the county $14.5 million. In addition, the Californian reports that KMC is "stumbling through soggy financial turf as state and federal funds whither," while the number of uninsured patients increases and state regulations add to higher overhead costs. Jones said that KMC's cost saving efforts have delayed the hospital's purchase of new equipment, "a need we're going to have to address at some point" (Wenner, Bakersfield Californian, 7/17).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.