During its regular meeting at the hospital Wednesday night, the Schneider Hospital District Governing Board discussed boosting its collections efforts, introducing a bill-pay forgiveness plan and better educating its staff on administering charges from the start.
To date in Fiscal Year 2014, the hospital has taken in
The expected revenue for this fiscal year is
Given the hospital's total operating expenditure's of more than
Drop in collections
While collections were on the rise in April -- totalling more than
The hospital collected a heftier amount in April because it received a
In May, collections dropped to slightly less than
The board expressed concern, not only because the numbers were not what they had hoped for, but also because people were citing complaints about how the collections agency,
The board assumed the agents were representing
"They ask the people, what is the bill for? They say we can't tell you because of HIPAA," Richardson said of the interactions between the patients and the agents, who are citing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects patients' private information.
In many cases, the patients then will contact the hospital's business office, Richardson said, and the office sometimes will tell them that no bill exists, which sometimes is accurate and sometimes is not, Vitello said.
To improve collections,
The hospital is considering giving patients 50 percent off bills that are more than a year old, a discount that would be offered for a 60- to 90-day period, according to Vitello.
Amidst its financial struggles, the hospital is squandering revenue, at least
Staff are not undercharging intentionally, but rather because they have not been educated on how to properly charge for services, he said.
"What I am trying to do is point out that this is not as bad as it actually looks," Vitello said about the hospital's income.
The hospital could be bringing in "several million" more if the employees are better educated on how to charge the patients, according to Vitello. The hospital is trying to adapt by setting up training for the departments to teach the staff the proper practices, he said.
"We have all hands on deck for this," Vitello said, noting that the insurance companies pay the hospitals based on the charges provided by staff.
Additionally, the inaccurate charges have jeopardized a charge-capture program known as
"It's almost like a vending machine for patients -- could be implants, sutures, screws -- it charges the patient. A nurse keys it into a computer screen. It's inventory management," Vitello said.
The hospital also is missing about
"Say they take out five items at once, but it's not being charged properly," Vitello said, noting that only one item may have been properly paid for.
The board also discussed the hospital's recently discovered tax dues, which have threatened the renewal of the hospital's pharmaceutical license, which expires
Schneider owes the
As a result, the
The hospital worked with the
The hospital also owes the
Vitello said that a portion owed -- which he said he became aware of Wednesday -- turned out to be in the form of taxes, which he told the hospital board may have been a withheld amount.
As for the penalties and interest, Vitello said the 941 VI forms, which accompany the quarterly income tax withholding payments made to the IRB, were filed late for several periods during the course of eight years. The hospital owes the local tax agency
Vitello said that he submitted a letter to the IRB on Wednesday stating that the hospital could offer a
(c)2014 The Virgin Islands Daily News (St. Thomas, VIR)
Visit The Virgin Islands Daily News (St. Thomas, VIR) at www.virginislandsdailynews.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services