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Archive for Wednesday, November 19, 1997

BUDGET MAY JUMP FINAL HURDLE TODAY

November 19, 1997

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Both costs and revenue are expected to climb at Lawrence Memorial Hospital next year.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital trustees are expected to vote today on the hospital's proposed 1998 budget, which includes an increase of more than $2.5 million in total operating expenses.

Patient revenue is projected to jump $2.6 million, partially based on outpatients that will be treated at Lawrence Family Care, the hospital's new clinic that opened recently at 1311 Wakarusa.

Trustees will discuss the budget at their monthly meeting at 9 a.m. in the hospital auditorium, 325 Maine. The budget figures were discussed at three previous workshops at the hospital.

If the board accepts the budget as published, and the budget stays on track next year, LMH President and Chief Executive Officer Gene Meyer said the hospital's net profit margin will be $2.7 million, or 5.3 percent. Chief Financial Officer Dennis Strathmann describes that figure as healthy.

The budget estimates the hospital's total operating expenses at nearly $50 million.

According to the budget, LMH administrators expect to spend $652,000 on charity care for patients without insurance and $20.6 million in discounted services for Medicare and Medicaid patients.

"For nearly eight decades, Lawrence Memorial Hospital has pursued the mission of delivering quality health care services to the Lawrence community and surrounding areas," Meyer said in a statement to trustees that was distributed with the new budget.

"The hospital's 1998 operating budget is a reflection of that commitment, as we strive to strengthen the benefits required to be delivered to the citizens by their community-based, not-for-profit hospital," Meyer said.

The hospital and the city of Lawrence are engaged in a court battle with Columbia/HCA Healthcare, which claims that the city had no basis to deny a permit that would have allowed Columbia to build a hospital in Lawrence. Among the issues raised by critics at community meetings on the second hospital were Columbia's commitment to treating indigent patients. Critics said Columbia, a for-profit chain, would refuse to treat noninsured patients, forcing LMH to take care of them.

Columbia has said that its new hospital, if built, would treat the patients.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is koger@ljworld.com.

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