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Nashville General Hospital manages with smaller subsidy

The Tennessean, May 9, 2011

After years of worrying about its financial stability, Nashville?s safety-net hospital is surviving on a smaller subsidy from Metro government by increasing other revenues and "living within its means," city leaders said. The city's subsidy of the Metro Hospital Authority, which runs Nashville General Hospital at Meharry and two other facilities, dropped from $49.8 million in 2007-08 to $43.2 million in the current fiscal year. Mayor Karl Dean, who took office in 2007, has proposed keeping the subsidy at the same level in the next budget year, including $32.7 million for Nashville General alone. Like many public hospitals -- some of which, like Detroit's, are being acquired by private-sector companies -- Nashville General treats a lot of people who can't pay much, if anything, for health care. Because so many of its patients have little or no health insurance, the hospital doesn't get reimbursed for many of the services it provides. The hospital authority's Metro subsidy had ballooned from $30.7 million to $49.8 million in the three years before Dean became mayor, creating what Rich Riebeling, the city's finance director, called an "unsustainable" situation.