Moab Regional Hospital staff approached the Grand County Council at their Oct. 2 meeting to request ‘seed’ money that will enable the facility to in turn to receive Medicaid Disproportionate Share Payments (DSH), federal monies given to hospitals that provide care to low-income patients.

The requested money must come from a government entity to show community support for the regional hospital.

“Our request is simple and straight forward,” said Roy Barraclough, Moab Regional Hospital Chief Executive Officer. “We need seed money of $277,000 in order to receive $876,000. Secondly, we need assistance in identifying potential resources to acquire seed money on an annual basis.”

Barraclough said this is “not considered a hand-out”.

He said most hospitals typically look for external funding resources, such as a tax or other public funds.

“This is the difference between striving and thriving,” Barraclough said.

Barraclough said the hospital could survive without the DSH funding.

“But it would be harder and may limit services to the community,” he said.

Quorum Intensive Resources (QIR), a healthcare consulting firm, has been hired by the Moab Regional board of directors to help the hospital improve its systems and services. The hospital was unable to pay its monthly mortgage payment on time in May, which alerted both Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the hospital’s board of directors. The hospital was unable to make both payroll and the mortgage payment due to insufficient cash flow related to billing and collecting practices.

County councilman Gene Ciarus expressed concern about the hospital’s financial problems.

“This did not happen overnight. It seems it took a long time before it came to the attention of the public. We as elected officials are gatekeepers for taxpayers in the community. We want to feel comfortable that those dollars will be well watched,” Ciarus said.

Jim Richardson, the QIR consultant hired to work with Moab Regional Hospital, expressed confidence in the staff and the changes that have been made.

“There is a lot of work, but we have a team to establish an intensive management plan,” Richardson said.

In order to receive DSH funding for 2012, seed money will have to be sent by Nov. 29. County councilman Chris Baird addressed the difficulty in finding money in the county’s budget.

“I fully support the DSH funds and think it would be silly not to take advantage of it. This year it may be difficult, but we’re in the budget process,” Baird said. “We are going to have to figure it out. It would have to be a major amendment to this year’s budget. We hope the fund reserve is healthy enough to feel comfortable. There is no fat to be cut in anyone’s department.”

Moab Regional Hospital staff made a similar plea to the Moab City Council at their meeting Tuesday, Sept. 25. Near the end of the meeting Moab City councilman Kyle Bailey proposed moving $82,000 in the budget in order to assist with the DSH seed money.

That leaves a balance of $195,000 to find in order to have the $277,000 seed money to receive $876,000 DSH payment.

“If it’s not possible to come to that total, we don’t have to forfeit the entire amount. Our goal is to get as much as we can. The program is relatively flexible” Barraclough said.

The council discussed that future allocations may have to come from a sales tax. In order to enact the sales tax, the council would have to agree to put it on the June 2013 ballot. The measure would have to pass by a two-thirds vote by county residents.

“DSH will most likely be procured through sales tax. In order to secure that, you need to make the community comfortable that operations are being repaired and everything is efficiently run at the hospital,” Baird said.