Kaweah Health asking state for help amid financial struggles

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Monday, December 26, 2022
Kaweah Health asking state for help amid financial struggles
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Hospitals across Central California are facing financial hurdles from the pandemic.

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Hospitals across Central California are facing financial hurdles from the pandemic and are calling for help from the state capitol.

"Throughout the pandemic, which started in March of 2020. Hospitals have stood really tall, amazingly, selfless, dedicated," said Gary Herbst, the CEO of Kaweah Health Medical Center.

Despite standing strong, the healthcare industry has faced several unprecedented circumstances from the coronavirus pandemic, including financial losses that have left them struggling to stay afloat.

"We've lost $130 million and received $61 million in federal Covid relief, so less than that was recovered. The balance came out of reserves in put us in this financial straight we are in right now."

Herbst wrote a letter to Governor Newsom in November, explaining exactly why the hospital is in a financial crunch.

One of the reasons is the reimbursement rates from insurance like Medi-Cal, which have been frozen since 2012.

David Bacci, Regional Vice President at Hospital Council, says 1 in 3 Californians are on Medi-cal, and about 40% of patients in the Central Valley depend on it.

"We've seen prices go up everywhere, but the problem is for the hospitals, they are not able to collect more money even though their costs have gone up," explained Bacci. "So, they are operating with 2022 soon to be 2023 expenses but reimbursed the amount agrees upon in 2012."

Insurance reform is one of the many things Herbst is asking for before things get worse within hospital walls.

Bacci says Madera Community Hospital announced its closure this week for several of the same reasons Herbst is sounding the alarm about.

"We are starting to really see the effects of operating at a loss. Hospitals in our backyard closing, those patients have to go somewhere else to hospitals already full," Bacci said.

Bacci says communities need to support their local hospitals and raise awareness, so another closure doesn't happen.

To read the full letter sent to the Governor and support Kaweah Health Medical Center, click here.