|Baton Rouge – Over the past week, the Department of Health issued checks to 31 more hospitals that cared for uninsured patients last year in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. (Earlier payments were made to East and West Jefferson hospitals.) With these latest payments, LDH met its mid-February goal of issuing extra funding to hospitals that qualified because they treated higher numbers of uninsured patients.
Totaling almost $38 million, these payments are from a $120 million funding pool created during the 2006 regular session. The Appropriations Bill, approved by the Legislature, set aside this money to pay non-rural, community hospitals for treating additional uninsured patients after LSU’s Charity Hospital closed due to Katrina, forcing many former Charity patients to seek care in other hospitals.
This funding was the first in a series of payments that will be made to qualifying hospitals. The payments cover the period from July 1, 2006 to Dec. 31, 2006. Remaining payments are expected to be issued as costs are incurred. The following chart shows which hospitals have qualified for reimbursement funds and the amounts they have received thus far:
* mental health hospitals
Hospitals in the New Orleans and Lake Charles regions were paid a percentage of all uninsured costs according to a formula approved by the Legislature. Hospitals outside the hurricane-impacted areas were eligible for payments after their uninsured costs exceeded 3.5 percent of their cost.
Hospital funding is distributed following a reimbursement formula that was outlined in the legislation. Payments are determined by the cost of uninsured patients compared to the total costs.
“I am very pleased that the Department has completed this round of payments,” said Dr. Fred Cerise, LDH secretary. “The hospitals requested a January 12 deadline to submit their claims for funding. We verified those claims and issued payments within a month’s time. We will continue to put forth this kind of dedicated effort with the remainder of our payment schedules.”
These funds are in addition to payments made last year from special federal funding for providers who treated uninsured patients in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Other enhanced payments to hospitals include: