Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - July 2008
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ETMC takes over payment for clinic
Trinity Standard - July 2008

TRINITY – The cost of building the new $1.6 million clinic adjacent to the Trinity hospital was shifted Monday night from local taxpayers to ETMC.

Acting on a request from East Texas Medical Center’s senior vice president, Jerry L. Massey, the Trinity Memorial Hospital District’s board approved changes in their Master Agreement with ETMC that would allow the company to take over the clinic project.

ETMC-Trinity Administrator Warren Robicheaux told the TMHD board that the company would reimburse the district for the costs already incurred in the clinic project.

“Any additional costs that might come through change orders also will be handled by ETMC,” Robicheaux told the board.

The new clinic, which is designed to house up to six full-time physicians, is currently under construction. TMHD had already paid $14,000 to the contractor and was scheduled to issue another $72,000 check Monday night.

After the board’s action, the $72,000 check was voided.

In a letter from Massey to the board, the ETMC official noted that the clinic building would be built on land owned by the hospital district and that the clinic building itself would still be owned by TMHD.

ETMC would use it rent-free during the course of its lease agreement but control of the clinic building would revert to the district when the lease is terminated.

Currently, ETMC operates the local hospital under a lease agreement that runs through 2027.

Under the original plan, the design of the clinic was approved by both ETMC and TMHD. The building was to be built by the hospital district, which would recover the cost over the next 20 years through monthly rental payment from ETMC.

Under Massey’s proposal, the lease also was amended to require ETMC to develop a facilities master plan to address other capital improvements which may be need to either add hospital services or to maintain and improve the existing hospital building.

Hospital Board President Dave Ward said he felt the clinic plan would benefit the district by freeing up funds for other projects.

He noted that while TMHD now has the $1.6 million need on hand, paying for the clinic would have depleted their funds until additional tax revenue is received next year.

“It looked like it would be touch and go (financially) for a short time,” he said.

TMHD financial consultant Tom Ramey noted that coupled with another TMHD-ETMC program approved Monday night, the district can expect to have about $600,000 to $700,000 in uncommitted funds this year that could be used for other projects.

The other program approved Monday night calls for the local hospital district to pay its indigent care bill for the next four years in a $1.2 million lump sum.

The district has been paying ETMC $25,000 per month or $300,000 per year to reimburse the company for indigent care expenses.

Under the plan approved Monday night, the district would put the $1.2 million into the Upper Payment Limit (UPL) program sponsored by the Texas Medicaid Hospital Supplemental Payment Program.

Under the current UPL rules, hospitals systems such as ETMC can put indigent care money into the UPL and have Medicare pay them back the original amount plus 160 percent in additional indigent care money.

Under this Medicare formula, the local $1.2 million payment would be turned into over $3.1 million which would be used by ETMC to fund indigent care programs throughout its system – including the Trinity hospital.

Robicheaux noted that once the money was put into the UPL program, it and the 160 percent march returned by Medicare could only be spent on indigent care services.

Other business
During the meeting, the board also:

· Accepted the resignation of longtime board members and former president Gordon Cotton.

· Approved committee assign- ments for the coming year

· Re-elected Ward as board president; Larry King as vice president and Travis Star as secretary. King, who has served as the vice president for three years, said he would continue in the post for a short time but planned to step down as a board officer in the near future. “Its time for someone else with fresh ideas to serve on the executive committee,” he told the board.

· Administered the oath of office to Star, who was elected to a new two-year term in May but was unable to attend the June meeting. The other May winners, Ward, King and Cotton, were sworn in on June 16.







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