Stephens Co. Hospital To Open Line of Credit

Stephens County Hospital will open a line of credit to help with what officials are calling an unusually tight cash situation.

Monday, the Hospital Authority voted unanimously to open that line of credit with Stephens Federal Bank, where the Hospital has a Certificate of Deposit located.

Hospital Administrator Ed Gambrell said that the hospital is opening the line of credit for multiple reasons.

He said one reason is the fact that business remains slow at the hospital, with hospital officials reporting that last month was another tough month in the way of revenue.

However, Gambrell said the bigger reason is a dispute with Medicare that has resulted in the hospital not receiving a significant sum of money over the last month.

“They withheld around $700,000 from us that we strongly feel they did in error,” said Gambrell.  “In fact, not just us, but our audit firm that prepared the Medicare Cost Report from (Fiscal Year) 2009 feels that Medicare is wrong.”

According to Gambrell, the dispute stems from Medicare paperwork filed by the hospital back in Fiscal Year 2009.

“Beyond that, I cannot tell you a whole lot, but the company that Medicare uses to administer cost reports changed during (Fiscal Year) 2009 and we think they lost some documents at that time,” said Gambrell.  “We have supplied them with everything again, but they still have to go through their review process and not just take our word for it.”

Gambrell said that any loss in Medicare revenue is significant because Medicare makes up 50 percent of the hospital’s patient volume and when combined with tight revenues overall, has created the need for the line of credit.

He said the line of credit will tide the hospital over until the situation with Medicare is resolved.

Gambrell did not have a timeline for when that might happen.

He did say that the hospital would not have more money withheld by Medicare while this issue is resolved.

“We have got Medicare now to agree that they will not withhold any more, though it took a month for them to come to that point, just to allow the review process to take effect,” said Gambrell.

Gambrell said he is comfortable that eventually, Medicare will give the hospital the money that it withheld over the last month.