The CEO of Kern Medical Center started off Monday fighting to keep crucial services in place under its $70 million county loan. Paul Hensler was going to ask the county to increase the loan to keep the hospital functioning, after it looked like the county voted against it last week.
KMC has reached its loan limit with the county at 70 million dollars. Last week, Supervisors Ray Watson, Zack Scrivner and Karen Goh voted to increase the hospital's loan. But, supervisors thought they needed four votes to approve the increase. County counsel informed supervisors Monday that last week's 3-2 vote was actually enough to increase the loan.
"The entire board is worried about would the loan level have an effect on service delivered to the public because it's imperative the public be served," said Mike Maggard, 3rd District Supervisor.
KMC is the only trauma center between Los Angeles and Fresno. It is where victims of major car accidents receive treatment but CEO Paul Hensler says the hospital is in critical condition. KMC is transitioning to new rules and regulations of the Affordable Care Act, often dubbed "Obamacare." But, Hensler says the state and federal government are $45 million behind in payments to the hospital because of confusion over the transition.
"If trauma services were shut down, that does get to the crisis mode. That is what we are making every effort to ensure doesn't happen," said Hensler.
When the hospital treats a person insured by Medi-Cal or Medicare, it is reimbursed by the state or federal government but those reimbursements have been slow because of a new payment system.
"It's new and it requires a lot of work to work out the actual payment methodologies. I don't want to fault them other than it would be nice if they would speed it up," continued Hensler.
Hensler met with county supervisors again Monday afternoon. He said the loan is crucial when it comes to paying vendors and freelance doctors but county supervisors delayed a decision until Tuesday morning.
"The public deserves to hear the entire discussion about why would we did not approve the loan last time. Or did we approve the loan last time? That question needs to be resolved as well. But, the difference is, I think it should on camera, in our KGOV format, at the public meeting so they get to hear the entire discussion," said Maggard.
The meeting will be held at 9:00 a.m. at the County Administration Building on Truxtun Avenue in downtown Bakersfield. KMC says it has enough supplies and resources for about a month but reimbursement from the government may not happen for another 3 months, putting the hospital on life support until November.
You can also watch the meeting on TV. It will also be broadcast on KGOV.