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Losses fell in April for UMC

University Medical Center’s losses narrowed slightly in April, county finance chief George Stevens told Clark County commissioners on Tuesday.

Southern Nevada’s only public hospital suffered just a $2.2 million operational loss in April, compared to losses of about $4 million a month for February and March.

Still, the last three months the hospital “has done significantly better than the previous seven months,” said Stevens who, two months ago, asked the commission for a $60 million subsidy to bail out the hospital.

Between February and April, UMC lost roughly $10 million. In January alone, the hospital reported a $6.9 million operational loss. UMC had an average $4.8 million monthly loss between July and December of last year.

Financial statements for May are not yet available.

Stevens said the hospital’s financial turnaround could be attributed to administrators doing a better job collecting payments from patients and controlling operational costs at the hospital. In the past few months the hospital has eliminated some overtime pay and restructured some outsourced contracts for services.

On the receiving end, the hospital has collected about $10 million more in payments from patients in fiscal year 2007 than in fiscal year 2006, according to financial statements. Fiscal year 2007 ends June 30. Still payments from Medicare and Medicaid patients are down about $6 million for that same time period.

Medicare is the federal health insurance program that covers people who are either age 65 and older, or who meet certain disability criteria. Medicaid is the U.S. health insurance program for the poor.

Eighteen percent of UMC’s 2007 patients are Medicare recipients and 8.4 percent use Medicaid. About 20 percent are self-paying patients, meaning they are uninsured or show no proof of it when admitted.

UMC’s Medicare patients also tend to remain in the hospital, on average, 6.9 days. The national average is about 4.5 days. Because Medicare tends to pay below what the actual hospital provides in care, those costs add up and UMC ends up taking a loss on those patients.

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