Hospital leader: Vermont hospital budgets must prioritize recovery

Health

A hospital bed (Nexstar, file)

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s nonprofit hospitals, which are facing financial challenges because of the coronavirus pandemic, have filed budget requests with the Green Mountain Care Board for the coming fiscal year.

The hospitals are asking regulators for increases in charges to achieve operating margins that range between zero and 2.5%.

“Each of our hospitals has a unique story to tell but collectively, this request is about ensuring all of them can continue to be there – and ready to care – every minute of every day,” said Jeff Tieman, President and CEO of the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. He said in less than three months, hospitals lost $221 million, and “even with federal grant dollars of just over $134 million, they lost ground on many fronts in the current fiscal year.”

Tieman said, “we must prioritize recovery.”

Claudio Fort, president and CEO of Rutland Regional Medical Center, told the Rutland Herald its budget projects that the hospital will not perform as many procedures as last year, partially because COVID screening steps slow down the ability to process people through the health care system.

To make up for the loss of revenue, Rutland Regional officials have applied for a 6% increase in rates and prices.

Fort said last year, the request was for an increase of less than 3%. He said it had been many years since the hospital had asked for an increase as high as this year’s request.

Public hearings on the hospital budgets are scheduled to start on Aug. 18.

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