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Editorial Results (free)

1. Towns’ MED Job Proves You Can Go Home Again -

Tish Towns has just finished her first year at one of the most challenging jobs in the city – spearheading the effort to secure funding for The Regional Medical Center at Memphis.

It is a mission that brought her back home after 28 years.

2. Council Battles Funding Issues -

As Memphis political leaders made another trip to Nashville this week seeking money for The MED, others questioned the hospital’s life expectancy.

Memphis City Council members this week delayed a vote on $2 million in emergency funding for The MED until April.

3. Council Delays MED Money Vote -

Memphis City Council members have delayed a vote on $2 million in emergency funding for The Regional Medical Center until April.

The decision at Tuesday’s council session came after Claude Watts, CEO of The MED, said the hospital wouldn’t be in danger of closing without the money until around May.

4. Council Delays MED Vote -

Memphis City Council members have delayed a vote on $2 million in emergency funding for The Regional Medical Center until April.

The decision at Tuesday’s council session came after Claude Watts, CEO of The MED, said the hospital wouldn’t be in danger of closing without the money until around May.

5. MED, MCS Funding Swap Still an Option -

The two biggest institutional challenges facing Memphis city and Shelby County governments have found each other.

City funding of Memphis public schools and county funding of The Regional Medical Center at Memphis might seem like issues that have little in common – except they each involve public money.

6. UPDATE: City, County Consider MED, MCS Funding Swap -

City and county leaders met for an hour and a half today Downtown to continue discussions about a funding swap between the two governments.

The scenario being discussed in general terms so far would mean the city of Memphis would take over some part of the county’s responsibilities to fund the Regional Medical Center at Memphis and Shelby County government would become the single source of local funding for the Memphis school system.

7. MED Officials Brace for News In Bredesen’s Budget Address -

After having made their case to Nashville powerbrokers this week for more funding for the Regional Medical Center at Memphis, officials with The MED are bracing for the news that will come Monday night.

8. MED Funding a State Issue, Leaders Say -

The issue of double taxation reared its head this week as a plan to provide $12 million in local emergency funding for the Regional Medical Center at Memphis scored $10 million.

The county funding cleared the Shelby County Commission on a 9-3 vote after lots of debate Monday.

9. MED Task Force Members Appointed -

Shelby County Interim Mayor Joyce Avery and County Commissioner Joe Ford, who will become county mayor Dec. 10, have appointed a task force to brainstorm short- and long-term solutions to the revenue crisis at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis.

10. MED Eyes Mississippi for Funds, Arkansas Comes Through -

Arkansas has notified The Regional Medical Center at Memphis it will send $2.3 million to offset the cost of taking care of uninsured patients from that state, and now hospital officials are hopeful Mississippi will provide funding.

11. The MED to Close American Way Clinic -

The Health Loop on American Way will not be part of the package when The Regional Medical Center at Memphis spins off its clinics as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the county-owned hospital.

Claude Watts, the interim CEO of The MED, told trustees for the hospital Wednesday morning that the clinic would close July 30. Its closure will bring the number of Health Loop clinics, which once stood at 10, down to eight. As early as Friday, Watts said he will be able to make a recommendation about which clinics will be acquired by Christ Community Health Center and the Memphis Health Center.

12. Events -

Talk Shoppe will present “The Master Mind Principle” today from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South, 3693 Tyndale Drive. For more information, call Jo Garner at 482-0354.

13. Health Centers Could Acquire MED Clinics by September -

Two health center operations have identified the clinics they would like to acquire from The Regional Medical Center at Memphis, and Claude Watts, the hospital’s interim CEO, remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached by early to late September.

14. MED Funding Crunch Continues - The Regional Medical Center at Memphis continues to be in a cash crunch despite laying off personnel and enacting other cost-cutting measures.

There are several reasons for the financial problems, but The MED “would be burning cash at an even higher rate” had it not made the budget cuts, said Claude Watts, the interim CEO and a consultant for FTI Cambio, a firm that helps struggling hospitals implement turnaround programs.

Hospital officials met last week with a Shelby County Commission ad hoc committee on MED funding and health disparity issues. The county’s budget for next year will provide The MED with $27.6 million, the same amount as last year, but reduce a $3.8 million subsidy for its Health Loop clinics to $2 million because the hospital plans to spin off the clinics, said Jim Huntzicker, the county’s chief administrative officer.

Watts said the county, which owns the hospital, may be asked to give more money.

“That is an option on the table,” he said. “We have to be realistic at looking at the numbers. If you want to be honest about it and look at the county subsidy, it hasn’t increased over the years, but yet health care costs have continued to go up throughout the nation and the region.”

Holes in the bucket

The MED was already operating with a deficit when FTI Cambio came on board last year. The turnaround task became more difficult when Tennessee cut subsidies to The MED, which serves the entire region with its trauma and burn units.

The hospital will lose between $14 million and $19 million this year, Watts said.

“That is because we have lost some subsidies,” he said. “The essential access fund, we’re about $4 million short of what we had last year. That’s all cash. Those are real dollars.”

Also, the hospital’s Medicaid utilization payments are $4 million less than anticipated and it did not receive an expected $3 million from the state of Mississippi.

“That’s $7 million right there of support that we had anticipated having that will not be in this year’s budget, and we’re not sure that will be in next year’s budget either, Watts said.”

Watts and other hospital officials have visited Mississippi and Arkansas to request funding from those states. Mississippi’s Medicaid budget remains unresolved because its legislature recessed from its regular session without passing a budget. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is expected to call a special session on Medicaid before July 1.

Arkansas, which has not been providing funding to The MED, may be good for $500,000, Watts said, but the money is not a certainty.

There for all comers

The MED received no federal stimulus funds. However, stimulus money provided to Tennessee probably kept it from making more severe cutbacks to The MED, Watts said.

“We were looking at an additional $17 million in reductions coming to us,” he said. “What happened is those cuts were averted because my understanding is that the stimulus dollars were used to shore up the Tenncare program so those cuts didn’t have to take place.”

The MED needs funding sources tied to an escalator such as the Consumer Price Index, Watts said.

“Because of the mission of The MED, we will always be dependent on subsidies for our existence,” he said.

The cost for treating trauma and burn patients is higher than other hospitalizations, he noted.

“With that being said and then the fact that 30 percent of the people who walk through the doors of this hospital have no method of payment, we’re not able to generate enough revenue to be self-sustaining,” he said.


15. MED Progresses On Clinic Spin-Off Proposal -

Claude Watts, the interim chief executive officer of The Regional Medical Center at Memphis, on Wednesday gave a timetable for negotiations to spin off the hospital’s clinics and an update on efforts to obtain more funding from neighboring states.

16. Clinic Spin-Off Possible, MED CEO Says -

Claude Watts, the interim president and chief executive officer of The Regional Medical Center at Memphis, told the board of trustees for the county-owned hospital on Thursday morning that he is in talks to divest the hospital’s health loop clinics to community health centers that provide similar services.

17. Regional Medical Center Lays Off 88 Employees -

The Regional Medical Center in Memphis has reduced its work force by 88 employees and also eliminated 62 vacant positions.

The reduction includes all levels within the organization, including administration, the hospital said in a press release. The reduction is one of many measures that the hospital is implementing to address a projected $17 million budget deficit this year.

18. MED Execs Mull Burn Unit Options -

The burn unit at The Regional Medical Center at Memphis should expand services to treat more people as a way to improve finances, not limit admissions to people with the worst injuries, said Dr. Bill Hickerson, the unit’s medical director.

19. The MED Receives Omnibus Funds -

The Regional Medical Center at Memphis will receive appropriations totaling $714,000 for improvements to its trauma and newborn intensive care units.

The money is included in the $410 billion omnibus bill signed into law Wednesday by President Barack Obama. The bill also included earmarks for other projects, including $1 million for a coordinated effort to combat violent crime in Memphis.

20. Interested Parties Want to Apply Stimulus Paddles to MED -

A concerned group of men stood outside the closed doors of an intensive care unit in the Regional Medical Center at Memphis last month.

The doctor and the emergency medical technician listened attentively as the restaurant owner from out of town talked deliberately about a course of action. Outside the hallway huddle, others gathered around the three appeared anxious – mindful that time was of the essence.

21. Events -

The Memphis Rotary Club will meet today at noon at the University Club of Memphis, 1346 Central Ave. Claude Watts, interim CEO of the Regional Medical Center at Memphis, will speak. Lunch is $18 per person and reservations are required. For reservations, e-mail Taylor Hughes at taylor@memphisrotary.org.

22. Events -

The Engineers’ Club of Memphis Inc. will hold its weekly meeting and lunch today at 11:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis, 3700 Central Ave. George Ragazzo of Modular Gabion Systems Inc. will present “Modular Gabions and Mattresses.” Cost is $14. No reservations are required.

23. MED Board Approves Possible Job Cuts -

The board for the Regional Medical Center at Memphis voted unanimously Wednesday morning to give FTI Cambio authority to implement changes that could save the publicly owned hospital as much as $25 million, but also potentially put as many as 200 employees out of work. FTI Cambio is the consulting firm contracted to manage The MED.

24. Mississippi Medicaid Lashes Out Over MED Comments -

The Mississippi Division of Medicaid issued a sharply worded response Tuesday morning to comments by Memphis officials about the state not doing enough to reimburse the Regional Medical Center at Memphis for treating its citizens.