Louisiana’s community hospitals are in crisis. Community hospital reimbursement for many of the health care services provided to the state’s Medicaid recipients has been cut 15 percent or $140 million in a year’s time. As Tangipahoa Parish has one of the highest percentages of Medicaid recipients in the state, North Oaks’ share of funding cuts this fiscal year was $5 million with more cuts anticipated.
Now, North Oaks and other community hospitals face another devastating financial blow. Lawmakers are being asked to slash even more from health care funding by approving Governor Jindal’s Executive Budget for fiscal year 2011. North Oaks’ share would be $2 to $3 million for a total reduction of $8 million.
North Oaks’ 50-year history has been marked by sustained growth. We are now the largest and most comprehensive community hospital organization on the Northshore offering almost every conceivable health care service. North Oaks also is the second largest employer in Tangipahoa Parish.
Although we have proactively implemented cost-saving measures, our financial reality is being further complicated by people temporarily putting off their health care needs until the economy improves. This affects us in the short-term by decreasing utilization of our services and, as a result, giving us sicker patients to care for at the same flat or reduced reimbursement rates. In addition, the amount of uncompensated care we provide has steadily increased from fiscal year 2008 to 2009 by $4 million for a total of $53 million. Other uncontrollable factors affecting our financial reality are the uncertainty of federal health care reform and large employers switching health plans. All told, the impact to our bottom line is a reduction of reimbursement of $18.4 million for a total shortfall next fiscal year of more than $26 million.
If this shortfall is realized, North Oaks will not be able to provide the same scope of services, jobs and community involvement to meet the needs of the more than 200,000 individuals we serve.
Never before has there been a more critical need for your voice in the upcoming legislative session. As a community hospital, North Oaks needs your support to protect the vital health care services we provide.
Tell the lawmakers who represent you to stop cutting community hospitals and restore their funding. Your health and quality of life may depend on it. Visit www.ProtectMyHospital.org to find out more and to contact your legislators.
James E. Cathey Jr.
President/Chief Executive Officer
North Oaks Health System
15790 Paul Vega, MD, Drive
Hammond, LA 70403