Need drives Catholic Health’s record community benefit costs

Ohio’s largest hospital system said Thursday its community benefit costs hit a record $385.4 million in 2012 to cover Medicaid losses, uncompensated care and community programs.

That amounts to more than $1 million a day.

Cincinnati-based Catholic Health Partners says the expense increased by $39.7 million from 2011 to make up about 10 percent of overall 2012 operating expenses. Catholic Health, a nonprofit operating 24 hospitals in Ohio and Kentucky, and 15 long-term care facilities, had 2012 net operating revenues of $3.8 billion.

The nonprofit hospital group owns Springfield’s Community Mercy Health Partners, Urbana’s Mercy Memorial Hospital and Butler County’s Mercy Health — Fairfield Hospital. Altogether, Catholic Health has more than 33,000 employees.

“Given the economy, it’s no surprise that more people in greater need than at any time in recent history sought help from CHP facilities and caregivers they trust,” Catholic Health said in its annual benefit report.

Community benefit costs include free charity care, cost of care for Medicaid patients not fully reimbursed by government, free health clinics, health fairs and health education.

Last year’s total $385.4 million community benefit includes $154.9 million for unreimbursed care for those who are poor and qualify for Medicaid; $126.3 million for charity care, health care provided for free or at a discount to people uninsured and unable to pay; $72.5 million for community activities; and $31.7 million to support other programs for the poor, Catholic Health said. One community program Catholic Health supports is an obesity health program for fourth graders in 16 schools, for example.

Mercy Health physicians also commit to seeing a minimum 10 percent of patients without insurance, the hospital system says. Mercy Health is a division of Catholic Health.

Greater Cincinnati Health Council said their most recent information shows member hospitals in 2011 provided a total $308 million in uncompensated care in 2011, an increase of 10.7 percent versus $278 million in 2010. The group has 18 hospital members in the region, including Mercy Health.

Statewide, the net loss for providing care to the uninsured — the difference between the total cost and reimbursements — has risen about 32 percent from 2008 to $1.2 billion in 2011, according to Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services.

Dayton-area hospital systems Kettering Health Network and Premier Health Partners release 2012 community benefit figures later this year.

Staff writer Randy Tucker contributed to this report

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