Hospital budget requests 'historically low,' regulators say
Vermont's 14 hospitals returned budget requests that average well below the cap set earlier this year by the Green Mountain Care Board, according to a preliminary analysis released Thursday.
Hospitals are seeking a 2.6 percent average increase in net-patient revenue for the coming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Net patient revenue is defined as payments from insurers, government and individuals for health services.
If approved, the requested increases would translate into a $56.9 million increase in hospital revenue. Total hospital revenues in Vermont last year were roughly $2.2 billion.
The board had asked that budgets not exceed a 3 percent revenue increase.
The governor, board members and the state hospital association lauded the lower than expected growth in hospital budget requests as a sign that health care costs are being contained.
However, the 2.6 percent increase is low in part because Gifford Hospital requested a 9.9 percent reduction in its budget. The Randolph hospital is incorporating its primary care practice as a separate nonprofit, in order to be designated as federally qualified health center. That subtracts $6 million from Gifford's budget request.
Two hospitals submitted budgets that exceed the 3.8 percent cap. Springfield Hospital is seeking a 5.1 percent increase and Porter Hospital in Middlebury is seeking a 4.1 percent increase.
Much of the statewide increase will go to Fletcher Allen Health Care. Its 3.7 percent increase request is $38.7 million of a total revenue figure of $1.08 billion.
Hospital officials will appear before the board Aug. 26-28 at a public hearing to detail the reasons underlying their individual requests.
The board is expected to vote on hospital budgets Sept. 11 and budgets must be approved by Sept. 15 for the start of the hospital budget year in October.
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