It’s money that’s been owed for a long, long time – but this month Governor LePage came through on one of his big promises — paying the state’s hospitals their shares of the nearly 2 billion dollars they’re owed from the combined state and federal MaineCare debt.
“This is really not a windfall,” says Sylvia Getman, president and chief executive officer of the Aroostook Medical Center. “We did the work, nurses took care of those patients. We gave out medications, we did treatments to the patients and now we’re finally getting paid for that work that we have done over that time”
Sylvia Getman, CEO of the Aroostook Medical Center, says TAMC will use their more than 12-million dollar reimbursement to pay off other debts, and invest in things that for a while they did without, like a new linear accelerator for their radiation cancer treatments. Houlton Regional Hospital got a check for just under 700-thousand dollars, which chief executive officer Tom Moakler says, was spent in a half hour, to pay off the bank.
Moakler says, “What the settlement did not include, which would have been nice, would be the interest that we’ve had to pay over the last 7 or 8 years, on the borrowing that we had to incur just to meet our obligations, that averaged about 50 thousand dollars a year but ya know we’re still very happy with the settlement money.”
Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent has also already spent their 4.3 million dollar reimbursement on replacing their 11-year-old MRI machine.
CEO Peter Sirois says, “We were struggling every year to keep up with technology and to keep up with raises for our employees and so with this money, and so with this money it brings us to a neutral stance.”
Cary Medical Center’s chief executive officer Kris Doody says the Caribou hospital will hold their 4 million dollars in reserve, and look at how the Affordable Care Act will impact the hospital going forward. Though she does have concerns, she says this MaineCare debt shouldn’t build up again.
“The debt had been accumulating over time because of the way the hospitals were paid. They were paid on an estimated payment methodology and that has since changed to prevent this situation.”