VT Digger | August 31, 2016

August 31, 2016

Regulators to decide on $2.4 billion in proposed hospital revenue

Vermont’s health care regulators will decide in the next several weeks whether to lower the prices that hospitals charge for services starting Oct. 1.

The hospital system as a whole, which includes 14 hospitals of various sizes and management structures, has proposed to take in $2.4 billion from patients in the upcoming fiscal year, a 5 percent increase over what was budgeted for in the current fiscal year.

The proposed increase in revenue from patient care is higher than the 3.4 percent target the Green Mountain Care Board requested from hospitals going into the hospital budget process, and may be the result of more people needing health care services. ...

Julia Shaw, who works for Vermont Legal Aid’s Office of the Health Care Advocate, said the board should determine what has been causing hospitals to take in excess revenue, and then develop a process for how to address each hospital’s overage.

Shaw said the board should not allow hospitals to “bake in” their revenue overages into their baseline budgets each year. “We hope that the board doesn’t undercut its process by allowing huge revenue increases without determining what’s driving them,” she said.

Shaw said this is the first year since the Green Mountain Care Board started regulating hospital budgets that the Office of the Health Care Advocate has participated in the process. She said there have been “bumps in the road” that she hopes get smoothed out over time.