Cash-strapped Western Slope Hospital to receive $1.4 million advance

Cash-strapped Western Slope Hospital to receive $1.4 million advance

The exterior of Delta County Memorial Hospital in Delta, Colorado can be seen via Google Maps in this screenshot. Delta Health is facing a cash crunch, the latest rural hospital in Colorado to face financial difficulties. (Screenshot via Google Maps)

A Delta County hospital that says Medicare loans have depleted its cash will receive more than $1.4 million in state installments, but it’s unclear if that’ll be enough to stabilize it.

Board members of Delta Health, which owns Delta County Memorial Hospital and clinics on the West Rim, said Monday they recently discovered almost all of their cash was devoted to the repayment of debts – meaning they had money in the bank, but couldn’t use it.

Board Chairman Jean Ceriani said Delta Health would be able to make payroll the next time checks were due, but would be looking for help to weather the cash crunch.

The hospital had been losing money for yearsbut Ceriani blamed the immediate crisis on the need to repay $11 million in Medicare advances late last year.

Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had essentially loaned hospitals a portion of their expected future payments to help them through the worst times of the pandemic, but when it came time to pay them back, hospitals also faced the upside. labor and supply costs.

Marc Williams, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Funding, said Friday the department plans to advance Delta Health, by the end of the day, a payment of $653,060 from the Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise, or CHASE, which he was supposed to receive in April and May.

Delta Health will also receive $818,262 in June payments from CHASE by April 21, he said. The payments are not loans, but an early delivery of money the hospital was already going to receive, Williams said.

All hospitals are expected to receive more payments through CHASE in June than in May as the department transitions to its 2023 rates, Williams said. Hospitals pay fees to CHASE, which is used to draw federal funds matched and redistributed to hospitals. Some of the money is used to offset the cost of unpaid care, while some goes to cover people who became eligible when the state expanded Medicaid.

On Friday, Delta Health representatives said they were still working on the process and would discuss it with staff before making any public statements.

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