Safety Net Care Pool (SNCP) Funding
Through the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) Taos Health Systems is required to treat everyone who walks through the door regardless of ability to pay for services. If there was no state or federal reimbursement for unpaid hospital visits, the cost would roll over to other patients, or small rural hospitals would be forced to close (as many have across the country in recent months).Sole Community Provider (SCP) funding began in 1993 as a way to reimburse hospitals for uninsured or indigent hospital patients, specifically in a geographical area where there is only one hospital. The idea was that in a community with only one hospital, it was unreasonable to expect the one health care institution to be able to accept the burden of all of the indigent patient care.
This program was recently migrated into the Safety Net Care Pool (SNCP) Fund through a waiver developed between the State of New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD), and the Center for Medicare / Medicaid Services (CMS). The development of the waiver was done completely through administrative functions of the New Mexico Human Services Department, with no input from hospitals throughout the state or from legislatures.
Funding of this “Centennial Care Waiver” was determined through legislative action during the most recent legislative session in January through provisions of Senate Bill 268. Although the Centennial Care Waiver is designed to be in-effect through 2018, Senate Bill 268 only provides funding for the current state fiscal year.
In accordance with the waiver, Taos Health Systems will receive $5.1 million through the “Uncompensated Care Pool.” The hospital anticipates additional increased funding from this SNCP program through increases in the inpatient base payment rates from April through December.
SNCP Financial Facts:
- Between 2011 and 2013 reimbursements to THS were nearly cut in half
- In 2013 reimbursements were cut by another 50%
- We currently incur nearly $10 million in annual expenses to treat uninsured or indigent patients and though the reimbursements have been reduced, unpaid hospital visits have steadily increased.
- The Affordable Care Act may help reduce the number of uninsured visits, but it will take years for rural hospitals to see any benefit.