Leaders from Morgan Medical Center presented an annual audit report to the Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) on Tuesday, Jan. 4, touting a net income of $4.9 million for the year, mostly due to federal COVID funding, and beguiling rising indigent care costs for uninsured hospital patients.
“This is the seventh year in a row that the hospital has had a positive bottom line,” said MMC’s Chief Finance Officer Kyle Wilkinson. “The last year we had a loss was back in 2014.”
Wilkinson noted that the hospital still would have come out on top even without the nearly $4.5 million in COVID funding from the CARES Act and PPP loans.
“Without that, we would still have a positive bottom line of $275,000 for the year,” explained Wilkinson.
Wilkinson explained that revenue has increased in a variety of ways for the hospital, specifically from inpatient care, since the hospital has expanded its services and scope of care, which enables the hospital to keep more patients in-house instead of transferring them out to other hospitals.
“We have changed our business model to focus on acute inpatient medicine,” said Wilkinson. “We take patients through our emergency center and are able to keep more of them in our hospital, rather than transferring them up the road to a different hospital.”
Despite ample COVID funding, state funding, and county funding, the hospital still spends millions of dollars every year to pay for indigent care, which is the cost incurred from treating uninsured patients.
In 2021, indigent care cost Morgan Medical Center about $4.5 million dollars. Even after the $1 million subsidy from Morgan County and other funding from the Georgia Trust for Indigent Care, the hospital had to pay $2.5 million out of operational funds to cover indigent care costs in 2021.
In 2021, just over 25 percent of all MMC emergency room patients were uninsured.
“With a full quarter of those patients being uninsured, this is a growing problem every year,” said Ralph Castillo, CEO of MMC. “That’s even with the county’s $1 million. All of it, 100 percent of the tax support the hospital gets, goes to pay for indigent care.”
Commissioners asked Castillo if there were any long-term solutions to reducing indigent care. Castillo replied that while the hospital tried to get uninsured patients covered through Medicaid or Medicare, until those programs are expanded, there is not much else the hospital can do on their end to reduce indigent care costs.
“I don’t mean to come across angry about it,” said a frustrated Castillo. “The challenge of indigent care our hospital now faces, beginning the third year of this COVID invasion, has only been exacerbated.”
Wilkinson assured the BOC that the hospital is still financially sound, improving and growing each and every year.
“This has been another positive financial year,” said Wilkinson. “A lot of it, yes, was from federal money from the coronavirus pandemic, but financially we are on great footing,” said Wilkinson. “We would have had a net income without the federal funds, so we are in good shape.”