Rural hospitals dread more losses with federal exchanges - Tucson News Now

Rural hospitals dread more losses under federal exchanges

Jim Dickson Jim Dickson
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Since Arizona will not be managing a health insurance exchange mandated by the federal government, rural hospitals worry about their futures.  Concerns run high that reimbursement, or the money that they get from insurance companies for caring for those patients, will drop under federal oversight.

"I've had my bottom line halved to what it was a year ago," said Jim Dickson, CEO of Copper Queen Community Hospital in Bisbee.  "And so, what you're seeing is a diminishment in the capacity of hospitals to provide care.  And if this keeps going the way it's going, you're going to have closures."

He said that two out of every three patients at the hospital use Medicare or Medicaid, which do not pay enough to cover the costs of a patient's visit.  He said that a federally-managed healthcare exchange will only mean more patients with plans that don't cover costs coming to rural hospitals with small profit margins and little room for loss.

"We're probably one of the lowest cost hospitals in Arizona," Dickson said.  "But the fact is, it's starting to bump on me now and some of the other hospitals really are just not in good shape."

Dickson said that he would rather that the state manage our health insurance exchange, and here's why: better access to lawmakers.  Telemedicine basically allows doctors, nurses and others to direct care over the phone or Internet, which can save millions of dollars in transportation.  He said that the state understands that more than the feds, all while up to a half a million Arizonans could get covered by an exchange.

"This hospital pioneered telemedicine," Dickson said.  "We saved about $1.5 million in transfer costs by having telecardiology.  So we're saving money.  But we're not seeing the insurance companies recognize that and so if we could have put that through the exchanges that they had to cover telemedicine, state or locally controlled, that would have insured, we would have gotten paid for this."

Dickson also worried about the timeline for the exchange: the beginning of 2014.  He compared it to starting Medicare in one year.

But he said that the governor made the right move by leaving the exchanges to the federal government.  If problems begin in a few years with health insurance not covering enough costs, the federal government will have to deal with the problem.

 Copyright 2012 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • 'The Phantom' serial killer of children out of prison, living in Tucson

    'The Phantom' serial killer of children out of prison, living in Tucson

    Thursday, April 27 2017 12:17 AM EDT2017-04-27 04:17:43 GMT
    Friday, April 28 2017 11:32 PM EDT2017-04-29 03:32:02 GMT
    Convicted killer William Huff was spotted riding his bicycle through a Tucson neighborhood. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)Convicted killer William Huff was spotted riding his bicycle through a Tucson neighborhood. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    William Huff terrorized Sierra Vista during the spring and summer of 1967. Despite a sentence of 40 years to life, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency voted to release him from prison into home arrest. Family members of the victims are concerned for the safety of the community, as are new members of the Clemency Board. CBS 5 Investigates videotaped Huff riding a bike through his Tucson neighborhood. There are no restrictions placed on his proximity to children.

    William Huff terrorized Sierra Vista during the spring and summer of 1967. Despite a sentence of 40 years to life, the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency voted to release him from prison into home arrest. Family members of the victims are concerned for the safety of the community, as are new members of the Clemency Board. CBS 5 Investigates videotaped Huff riding a bike through his Tucson neighborhood. There are no restrictions placed on his proximity to children. 

  • Severe reaction to new sandals leads woman on a painful path

    Severe reaction to new sandals leads woman on a painful path

        One woman wants to warn people about her painful path, the result of a severe and debilitating allergic reaction.  She had no idea what she was allergic to until she visited a fourth emergency room in two weeks.    

    One woman wants to warn people about her painful path, the result of a severe and debilitating allergic reaction. She had no idea what she was allergic to until she visited a fourth emergency room in two weeks.    

  • Teen with cerebral palsy denied prom tickets

    Teen with cerebral palsy denied prom tickets

    Friday, April 28 2017 10:36 PM EDT2017-04-29 02:36:27 GMT
    Friday, April 28 2017 11:00 PM EDT2017-04-29 03:00:47 GMT
    Ashley Hamblin already has her dress picked out, but may not be able to wear it. (WSMV)Ashley Hamblin already has her dress picked out, but may not be able to wear it. (WSMV)

    She has her dress, her date, and an extensive hair and makeup plan. It’s all in anticipation of her high school prom, but a Middle Tennessee teen was denied tickets.

    She has her dress, her date, and an extensive hair and makeup plan. It’s all in anticipation of her high school prom, but a Middle Tennessee teen was denied tickets.

Powered by Frankly