MORENO VALLEY: New Hospital Faces Budget Shortfall
Moreno County's Health Services Agency has asked county supervisors to set aside $4.6 million in next year's budget to cover "potential revenue shortfalls" at the new Riverside County Regional Medical Center in eastern Moreno Valley. The county's "failure to fill" the $200 million facility with Medi-Cal HMO patients could have "far-reaching negative consequences" for the county's budget and "force cutbacks in county health services," the Riverside Press- Enterprise reports. When the hospital was located in Riverside, it had a "virtual lock on patients" enrolled in the Inland Empire Health Plan, the HMO created for Riverside and San Bernardino counties' Medi-Cal patients. Moving the medical center to Moreno Valley, however, opened it up to competition from the nearby Moreno Valley Community Hospital and two private hospitals in Riverside. Moreno Valley Community Hospital serves about 9,400 of the HMO's patients. The Riverside center serves roughly 1,700 of the Medi-Cal enrollees. The Press-Enterprise reports that "[c]ounty health officials want Inland Empire Health Plan to shift some or all of its patients from Moreno Valley Community Hospital to the new county hospital," contending that "the HMO has an obligation to protect safety net hospitals such as the county's that treat a large share of Medi-Cal patients." Karen Tejcka, senior vice president for Valley Health System, which owns Moreno Valley community, said to do so would "threaten" the hospital's "economic viability." The county receives state and federal payments based on the number of Medi-Cal patients it treats, and that money covers "nearly half of the hospital's debt payments" (Beeman, 5/12).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.