By Dewey Terrill
The annual cost of providing indigent care for Geary Community Hospital totals approximately $4 million. That's one of the issues GCH officials are dealing with as they work to address financial challenges facing the hospital.
Interim CEO Don Smithburg noted that there are two ways to address the issue. One is to look to the community to help support it with some tax dollars. "And in Geary County there is a very modest amount of funding to help chip away at the charity care, but not at the level that you see in many other counties across the state and across the nation. "
Another way to deal with it is being considered in the Kansas Legislature this session-- by expanding the medicaid program. "So that more people who currently aren't covered and can't afford coverage would be covered under the medicaid program." No final action has been occurred but there has been optimism that medicaid expansion could occur in Kansas.
Geary Community Hospital is a county owned hospital, and that means GCH must provide care for those who are indigent, unable to pay. Smithburg stated that, " every hospital in America, every acute care hospital, that is accredited by medicare, by the government, has a duty to care for any patient that presents at their door. But you find typically that it's your public hospitals, your local county hospital that really carries that burden."