ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Our periodic row over the role of the University of New Mexico Hospital officially kicks off tonight before the Bernalillo County Commission, which is expected to discuss terms of a new lease agreement with the hospital. The last time UNMH indigent care got a lot of people angry was in 2008 when voters had to reauthorize the mill levy that supports the hospital.
The UNMH administrative policies manual says the hospital “is operated pursuant to a lease agreement between the Regents of the University of New Mexico and Bernalillo County” that “requires Bernalillo County to provide certain revenues to UNMH for its continued operation and maintenance.” Those funds come from property taxes voters agree to impose on themselves. In exchange, UNM “provides care to indigent residents of Bernalillo County, contingent on availability of resources and funds. Patients who do not meet the eligibility criteria for financial assistance and have no third-party payor source are classified as self-pay.”
Audited financial statements for the most recent fiscal year show UNMH lost $88.3 million on operations, which essentially is providing care to patients of all kinds, including those who are indigent, who have private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid etc.
It cost $130.8 million to provide charity care to 26,500 people under the UNM Care program, available to Bernalillo County residents with incomes 300 percent of the federal poverty level or less. This does not include patients who receive Medicaid benefits.