Hospitals, state partner to fund uninsured care, facility improvements

Facing strains on safety-net care and deep Medicaid cuts, three hospitals in Arizona have partnered with the state both to finance care for uninsured adults and children, and to fund service and infrastructure improvements, Gov. Jan Brewer announced yesterday.

The initiative--in which Children's Hospital, Maricopa Integrated Health System, and the University of Arizona Health Network will pool together money to go to hospitals treating uninsured patients--would help offset escalating hospital costs by providing care to the uninsured. It also will allow almost 20,000 Arizona children to enroll in KidsCare, the state's children's health insurance program; thanks to budget cuts, KidsCare enrollment froze in 2010, with 128,593 children on the waiting list as of November 15, reports KOLD.

The "icing on the cake," according Gov. Brewer, is that program won't cost the state a thing, since the three hospitals will pay the $113 million tab. That allows the state to draw in nearly $230 million in matching federal funds.

The initiative also will go to much needed service and infrastructure upgrades for the three participating hospitals. For example, Phoenix Children's Hospital seeks to improve its teaching programs, MIHS wants to establish an electronic health record system, and UA Health Network plans to develop new trauma services.

Before other struggling safety-net hospitals can look to Arizona for ways to maintain care for their state's poorest residents, the funding initiative still needs approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

To learn more:
- check out the announcement (.pdf)
- read the KOLD article