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Citizens Medical Center not for sale, county judge emphasizes

By ALLISON MILES
Oct. 10, 2012 at 5:10 a.m.
Updated Oct. 11, 2012 at 5:11 a.m.


AWARDS PRESENTED

Randy Vivian, president and CEO of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, also presented awards during Wednesday's monthly chamber luncheon. Small business partner of the month went to ServPro of Victoria, while corporate partner of the month went to the City of Victoria Parks and Recreation Department.

Other highlights

at Wednesday's chamber luncheon include:

Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong's update on the state of Victoria:

• This year's Bootfest was a success and support from sponsors, volunteers and beer sales mean the city might break even.

• Final Bootfest numbers should be available soon.

• Victoria's partnership with sister city Guerrero, Coahuila is an opportunity to form an alliance with the city and capitalize on historical tourism.

Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi's update on the county:

• Victoria's air service resumed Oct. 1 and the airport averages 10 to 12 passengers daily.

• Sun Air International has a two-year contract. After that, the airport will go out for bids and likely fight Washington, D.C., to keep essential air service funding.

Citizens Medical Center is not for sale. It's a message Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi worked to make clear Wednesday afternoon.

"Stop the rumors," he said. "If somebody tells you they heard this or they heard that, you call me and I'll tell them Citizens Medical Center is not for sale. It's that simple."

Pozzi spoke to about 120 people at the Victoria Chamber of Commerce's monthly luncheon during an update of the city and county.

Rumors of the sale are prevalent, he said. And, while no sale is imminent, the hospital's board is reviewing a variety of financial aspects such as contracts, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, purchasing power and more.

"We always want to do better," Pozzi said. "Last year, we didn't have a great bottom line, quite frankly. This year, we're not sure what we're looking at."

Health care is in a pretty bad state, Pozzi said, and hospitals probably won't understand the total impact the Affordable Healthcare Act carries until January 2014.

Pozzi said the 1115 Waiver program, another upcoming change, could bring some relief, although initial payments don't begin until March.

According to the Texas Hospital Association website, the waiver expands Medicaid managed care statewide and replaces the existing upper payment limit program with two new funding pools.

The first, an uncompensated care pool, reimburses hospitals' costs of care for Medicaid and uninsured patients for which they would not receive payment, according to the site. Meanwhile, the delivery system reform incentive payment pool provides payments to hospitals and other providers once they reach certain goals to improve their quality and lower costs of care.

And, while Pozzi said he could not say for certain that nothing would ever happen with Citizens, he said the hospital has stood alone for years without county taxpayer support.

"There are not many hospitals in the state of Texas that are county owned - if any - that can say that," he said. "And so as far as I know, very few in the nation - if any - that can say that."

William Blanchard, CEO of DeTar Healthcare System, attended Wednesday's luncheon. He said he had heard beforehand that there was no plan to sell Citizens, but understood the concerns the hospital had.

The concerns are much the same most hospitals nationwide face.

It's difficult to keep up with increasing technologies, he said, and Victoria also finds itself competing against medical facilities in larger cities.

"It makes it hard for us to provide a high level of service when we don't have more people utilizing those services," he said after the luncheon.

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