The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Commissioner Eric Walker
Adams County Hospital District No. 2 

Commissioner Walker provides EARH update


December 13, 2018

As the year draws to a close, here are some odds and ends of updates on District business.

In late November, the District held a Strategic-Planning session. Normally, such sessions try to lay out goals, and strategies to meet those goals, for a multi-year period, but this time the focus was more short-term—a year or two—because we will be welcoming a new CEO in mid-

2019, as Gary retires then. The planning was thus left flexible enough so that whoever the next CEO is will be able to put his or her impress on the longer-term plans.

Speaking of a next CEO, since the opening was posted not long ago the District has received a plethora of applications, with more still arriving (the posting will remain open to applicants through this month). While some applications are the usual sort of froth one sees when a major position opens up, a preliminary review of the first batch by the District’s CEO- Recruitment Committee showed a number of very promising applicants. Health care is going through some huge changes, and will continue to do so for quite some time, and small rural hospitals in Washington State are particularly at risk in those transitions, so having the right CEO to continue Gary’s fine work will be even more important than usual.

As to those risks: the state’s Health Care Authority (HCA) is developing a new plan for Medicaid payments. To small rural hospitals like ours, that is literally a life-or-death matter, as Medicaid is an important component of our revenue stream. For years now, Washington hospitals have been substantially underpaid by Medicare and Medicaid, receiving less than our actual costs of providing services to those patients, who are a substantial part of our patient base.

The new HCA plan is still very vague, but it does not at this time look like it will help small rural Districts, and has a good chance of hurting us even more. Gary and I were part of a statewide delegation that recently went to Olympia to try to make the key healthcare legislators better aware of the harsh realities of healthcare finances in this state; we hope we had an impact (the group consensus afterward was, one might say, “guardedly optimistic.”)

And as to finances: the District has now finally received the overpayment refund of over

$300,000 that the state owed us for our electronic-records installation. And, with the help and training provided by the business consultants we have retained to assist with billing and collections, both of those processes are now improving rapidly. The collection of back bills is now picking up markedly.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to thank the community for all its support through this and prior years, and to wish everyone happy—and safe!—holidays (watch for that ice, sidewalks and roads). And as I look forward, I recall the words of Charles Dickens: “It was the

best of times, it was the worst of times...”


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