CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston Area Medical Center’s 2018 operating budget currently anticipates a $31 million loss, CAMC President and CEO Dave Ramsey said.
The hospital’s board of trustees approved the new spending plan at a meeting Wednesday in Charleston.
Ramsey said even with beginning January with that projected loss, they hope to be on the plus side by $20 million next year at this time.
“We think a big part of the difference between the loss and the positive $20 million will be made up by the increase in the number of patients we see. We just from a financial standpoint haven’t been able to really work through all of the math associated with that,” Ramsey said.
The hospital is on pace to eliminate 300 positions by the end of December and next year’s budget, passed Wednesday, figures in additional employee cuts to the tune of $16 million. Ramsey said they hope to take care of those cuts through attrition.
“It sort of takes care of itself in a way if we’re busier,” he said.
CAMC has experienced an unexpected jump in patients in the last six months, including those receiving outpatient services, giving hospital officials some optimism.
“The more patients we take care of we may not have to eliminate any positions because we have more folks to take care of,” Ramsey said.
The board is going to take another look at the new budget at the end of February when some of the current financial unknowns may be clearer, Ramsey said.
CAMC recorded a loss of $7.8 million in October. Eighty-one percent of its patients are covered by Medicare, Medicaid or PEIA, which don’t pay the full rate of care. Only 17 percent of the hospital’s patients are covered by commercial insurance. For every one percent drop in commercial insurance payers CAMC loses about $20 million.
Ramsey said health care finances continue to be a moving target.
“The floor is always sort of shifting a little bit in our industry. We just have to figure out how to be agile and move with it,” he said.
CAMC does continue to hire essential personnel, Ramsey said.
“We’re still hiring nurses. We’re still hiring people who work in food services. It’s just every position that comes up is scrutinized and we decide if this is one we can hold for a while,” he said.
The new budget does include a 2 percent across the board pay increase for CAMC workers beginning July 1.
CAMC is one of the state’s largest private employers with more than 6,000 workers.