It was a huge shock when University of New Mexico Hospital said it desires to build a new $146 million facility with cash on hand.
UNMH, in essence, is making very large profits on its operations while operating as a not-for-profit hospital. UNMH is a county hospital, and takes about $90 million each year in taxes from Bernalillo County alone.
Originally, the mill levy was a reimbursement for indigent health care they provide. In 2000, the mill levy was 3.4 mills, or about what other counties currently pay. From 2001-2005 the mill levy was increased for Bernalillo County property owners only to 6.5 mills.
The increase was to build another wing upon the hospital — serving all residents of New Mexico. That addition has been built and paid.
In 2007, Lovelace Hospital offered UNMH the Gibson hospital for one dollar. This was a turnkey offer for an over 200 bed facility. UNMH refused stating it would build a new hospital.
♦ Currently UNMH indigent health care for the entire state costs just over $147 million per year (25 percent of the hospital’s patients).
♦ In addition to the Bernalillo County mill, UNMH receives additional federal, state and other monies for total revenue of $918,767,159 (2010).
♦ UNMH yearly profit has been $70 to $80 million per year. Additionally, UNMH has made $30 million in capital improvements per year.
♦ The Affordable Care Act mandates everyone must have health insurance by January 2014, after which you will need only 10 percent of your current indigent health care funding.
♦ Tax lightning issue — 2002 = $46 million (6.5 mills) 2010 = $90 million (6.4 mills).
♦ Bernalillo County’s mill is 6.4 mills (about 20 percent of your property tax bill).
Why does UNMH have this money sitting around (their presentation to the Bernalillo County Commission — $209 million)? Why is the hospital taking money meant for the poor and using it for pet projects? Why is UNMH not reducing the mill levy on Bernalillo County property owners?
This leads to a discussion about UNMH overcharging the taxpayers of this county. The money for a new hospital, should come from a capital fund and does not include a discussion about the reoccurring operational cost.
Recently UNMH advertised they are the only Level 1 trauma hospital in the state. While correct, they request we pay for the new hospital. Most of us have health or auto insurance, and it is this insurance that will pay UNMH for our care.
UNMH is not a business but a not-for-profit state entity, this raises the question of whether UNMH should be building a new hospital at taxpayer expense to compete with the other private hospitals. Competition is fine, but should competition come from the government? If UNMH desires to compete with other local hospitals they should change their not-for-profit status.
There are plenty of beds available at the other Albuquerque hospitals, so instead of taking large amounts of public funds, why not send the overflow to other hospitals? There are two hospitals in Sandoval County, one a UNMH facility, and both have very low occupancy numbers.
Now that the election is over and the Supreme Court has ruled, we know that the Affordable Health Care Act will remain the law of the land, like it or not. The very purpose of that act is to keep people out of the emergency rooms by insuring over 30 million additional new people. So perhaps ACA will make this new hospital even more superfluous.
What we know is UNMH should not use taxpayer money to build a hospital when the money has come from overcharging county taxpayers.
If UNMH is making so much profit from county taxpayers, perhaps we should eliminate the mill levy altogether. I am fearful UNMH will lock in the current mill levy if allowed to build.