County to release $50,000 to hospital district

Charles Warner Editor

September 13, 2013

UNION COUNTY — The Union Hospital District will soon receive $50,000 in revenue generated by tax millage levied for the Union County EMS.

The Union County Council Committee on Public Health and Social Services voted unanimously Thursday to recommend to the full council that the funds be released to the district. The funds were generated by 9 mills levied by the county for EMS operations. The revenue was generated during fiscal 2012-2013.

Supervisor Tommy Sinclair said that when the county allocates millage for a specific organization or group, it collects those funds when taxes are paid and then pays them out in quarterly increments. Sinclair said that when the fiscal year ends any revenue generated by the millage that remains is then paid out to the organization or group the millage was levied for. He described this process as “reconciliation” that takes place after the end of any fiscal year when there are any funds left over.

Usually this is done automatically, but Sinclair said that the county has been working with this hospital district about its financial future. He said the money was held during that time until the hospital’s financial future became clearer.

“We have a better focus on the future of the hospital than we had,” Sinclair said. “We are confident that we can resolve all the issues.”

Sinclair declined to give further details as they involve contractual matters between the county and the district. The committee also voted to recommend to the council that it seek a joint meeting with the hospital board in the near future.

The committee’s vote comes just a week after the district reported a $1.1 million loss in July. The loss was due to a combination of an audit by Medicare, increased health insurance claims, maintenance costs, and a seasonal decrease in the number of patients. Another factor was indigent care which cost the hospital a total of $850,000.

Despite the losses, hospital officials feel the situation will begin to improve in October through the district’s participation in “Healthy Outcomes” a state initiative which provides funding to help cover the cost of indigent care and increase the district’s Medicare rates. The district will also receive Meaningful Use reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid in October, which is in the case of the former is expected to total approximately $800,000. The reimbursements from Medicaid have yet to be determined. The district is also looking at implementing a Hospitalist program which will increase the number of patients physicians will be able to see.

Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at cwarner@civitasmedia.com.