Hospital weighs discount option

By Tony Parra

Roosevelt County General Hospital James D’Agostino said he wants the hospital to work towards offering a discounting option for uninsured patients on Thursday at the RGH board meeting.
“We’re going to work on a discount trend with a sliding scale,” D’Agostino said. “We can begin offering a 35 percent discount, for example, for the working poor. There are those who decide they can’t pay their medical bills and their accounts end up going to creditors. They end up never paying. It’s (discount program) easier to do than to do debt or charity.”
D’Agostino said when Medicare was created in 1966, discounts were not being offered. He said the objective was to make sure everybody was billed the same. St. Vincent’s hospital in Santa Fe already offers the discount, according to a recent article in New Mexico Business Weekly. St. Vincent’s offers 35 percent discounts to patients who qualify through the St. Vincent’s care program. Qualifications depend on items such as being low income, uninsured and meeting federal poverty guidelines, according to the article.
“This is a good thing,” D’Agostino said. “We want to develop a program for the working class, who can’t pay their bills.”
Board member Terry Cone wanted RGH officials to look into the legality of being able to offer the service with state department officials, since St. Vincent’s Hospital is a privately owned hospital.
Kevin Ramage, Chief Financial Officer for Roosevelt General Hospital, updated the board members on the financial aspect of the hospital and July’s report. Ramage said the hospital received $1.5 million in revenue, making the lowest revenue generating month since November of 2003.
“We were slow last July as well,” Ramage said. “Because we have physicians on vacation, it’s generally slow. August will be one of the slowest months, usually it begins to pick up in September. Generally January is one of our busiest movies.”
Ramage said on the upside, the cardiac rehabilitation department saw 23 patients.
“That number is starting to grow,” Ramage said. “Our expenses stayed down for the month of July. Everybody will be getting back from vacation and things will begin to pick up.”
D’Agostino said the Roosevelt General Hospital will also have a couple of booths set up at the Roosevelt County Fair. The hospital will also be giving chances away for services offered by RGH, such as radiology donated two mammograms and two bone density test and Cardiopulmonary donated two pulmonary function tests and two EKG’s.
“We want to participate in the fair and buy an animal to support our (Roosevelt County) kids,” D’Agostino said. “You’ll see a presence of the Roosevelt General Hospital at the fair.”
RGH officials will also have a time in between 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. dedicated to seniors on Senior Citizen Day, which is Thursday, at the fair. Officials are asking senior citizens to bring their medications so medical staff can provide information regarding their medication.
During Mexican Heritage Days, which is Aug. 29, RGH officials will have brochures in Spanish and Spanish interpreters.