Safety Net Hospitals Brace for Medicaid Expansion

, January 13, 2014

Amid the potential fiscal landmines safety net hospitals can expect, there's a silver lining: CMS will delay cuts to its disproportionate share funding.

As Colorado rolls out its state-run health insurance exchange and expands its Medicaid program, Peg Burnette, CFO of Denver Health, a safety net institution with 525 beds and $475.8 million in annual patient revenue, is watching closely.

Because Denver Health treats a high volume of uninsured and Medicaid patients—45% of its revenue comes from either Medicaid or CMS's disproportionate share hospital program—Burnette knows a lot is riding on how health reform plays out in her state and says she's pleased with what she's seen so far.

"Colorado is one of the states that has been ahead of the game with health reform with respect to the exchange," Burnette says.

To date, roughly 53,000 people have enrolled in a health plan through the online marketplace called Connect for Health Colorado, which Burnette says functions well and is easy to use. "Based on data that the federal government published, Colorado is at 54% of what was projected for enrollment. We are fourth in the U.S. as a result of that," she says.


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