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SF County Provides Hospital More Money for Indigent Care

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Santa Fe County agreed Tuesday to give Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center an extra $165,000 in funding for indigent care claims this year.

The money is in addition to the approximately $2 million the county gave the hospital for the same purpose last March.

Santa Fe County traditionally provides Christus St. Vincent with millions of dollars in “sole community provider funding” every year to subsidize medical care for low-income, uninsured patients. The cash is matched with roughly three federal dollars for each local dollar.

The $2 million allocation was a precipitous drop from the $6.65 million the hospital received the previous fiscal year and the $9.5 million it got in 2009. Santa Fe County commissioners, in making the decision, cited their own budget concerns.

The money helped net Christus St. Vincent about $7 million in total “base” sole community provider funding.

The hospital still has the opportunity to secure almost $19 million in “supplemental” sole community provider money, but needs $5.7 million from the county and other local entities to obtain the full amount.

The $165,000 allocation is a small step in that direction. County Commissioners Liz Stefanics, Virginia Vigil and Danny Mayfield approved the funding during a meeting of the county Indigent Hospital and Health Care Board, made up entirely of county commissioners.

The money came from a pot of about $388,000 in budgeted but unused funds set aside for health purposes, according to county finance director Theresa Martinez.

The County Commission agreed last March it would revisit the funding issue this fall.

“I appreciate that the county is also keeping the door open for us to continue to work with the county and other branches of government to see if we can secure additional match (funds) so we can draw down as much of the federal dollar as possible to support us as we continue to provide services to people regardless of their ability to pay,” Christus St. Vincent CEO Alex Valdez said.

He acknowledged that he doesn’t expect to get the full $5.7 million in supplemental funds, but “now is not the time for frustration.”

“Now is the time for all of us to come together in the best interest of our community and work to see how best we can go about securing as much funding as possible,” he said.

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