Local News

Hospital Visits Could Be More Expensive With Cuts In Medicare Reimbursements

Posted June 22, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT

— A trip to the hospital may be getting more expensive. Congress reduced the amount of money hospitals get from Medicare. One Cumberland County hospital is already feeling the money crunch.

Joseph Scott had to go to the hospital after crushing his heel and breaking his arm in a work-related accident. Although his insurance will take care of the expenses, he knows the cost will be steep.

"It's gone outrageous. It's just getting worse and worse everyday," Scott says. "I just don't feel like it's fair to the people of the county."

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 cut the amount of money hospitals get from Medicare reimbursements nationwide by $100 billion. The cutbacks mean facilities likeCape Fear Valley Health Systemwill have to do more with less.

"It's $39 million over the next five years so it's a fairly significant cost reduction for us in terms of our reimbursements," says Richard Parks, chief executive officer for Cape Fear Valley Health System.

The cutbacks also translate into higher prices for hospital visits. Parks says he will have to reduce patients' length of stay and change the amount of equipment and supplies ordered. However, he says patient care will not be comprised.

Cape Fear Valley Health System is not the only hospital suffering from reimbursement cuts.Southeastern Regional Medical Centerin Lumberton andFirst Health Moore Regional Hospitalin Pinehurst are also forced to make cutbacks in their budgets.