What's on a healthcare CFO's mind

Chief financial officers of smaller independent hospitals have shrinking margins for error and worry about a variety of issues, reported Becker's Hospital Review.

Richard Rico, CFO of Sky Lakes Medical Center in Oregon, said he has five pressure points he worries about as he guides his hospital through fiscal hazards. They include losing funding from federal payers, potential Medicaid reform at the state level, physician recruitment in the middle of a shortage, nursing shortages, and downward pressure from commercial payers, according to the article.

The issue of the fraying safety net is felt by virtually every hospital operator in the United States, where hospitals such as Hennepin Medical Center in Minneapolis are expected to treat more patients while enduring payment cuts, reported Minnesota Public Radio.

In Oregon, Gov. John Kitzhaber recently signed a bill into law that would establish coordinated care teams to care for the state's Medicaid population. Although it is expected to save as much as $3.2 billion over the next five years, Rico believes unrealistic savings goals are being attempted by shortchanging hospitals on safety-net payments, according to Becker's.

And the physician hospital shortage can be particularly keen to a hospital such as Sky Lakes, located in the isolated Southern Oregon town of Klamath Falls.

"For a community like us, we have tough time recruiting physicians compared with the San Diegos and Seattles of the world because that's where people want to live," Rico said. "If there are going to be physician shortages, they are going be in rural areas like us."

For more:
- read the Becker's article
- here's the Minnesota Public Radio piece

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