To the editor:

As you may have read, Johnson Memorial Health has been mentioned in a lawsuit filed against Community Health Network by one of their former employees. You should know that Johnson Memorial has not been named as a defendant in this lawsuit. I was not given adequate time to properly respond to a request for a statement prior to an article running in the Daily Journal on Oct. 24. I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.

Johnson Memorial, like almost every county hospital in the state of Indiana, participates in an upper payment limit (UPL)/intergovernmental transfer (IGT) program. This program helps to offset the low reimbursement that Medicaid provides nursing facilities for the care of patients participating in the Medicaid program. This program allows nursing facilities owned by county hospitals to be reimbursed at a Medicare rate for the care of Medicaid patients. The program is intended to provide the necessary financial support to improve quality at both the nursing facility and the hospital level. If this was not the intent of the program, then why would a nursing facility be required to be owned by a governmental hospital in order to qualify for additional payments? I should point out that, according to the Indiana Hospital Association, Medicare pays 85 cents on the dollar and base Medicaid payments cover only 23 cents on the dollar for the actual cost of care of hospitalized patients. So, even at Medicare level reimbursement, hospitals and nursing facilities have to stretch the dollars they are reimbursed to properly take care of patients.

Johnson Memorial has contracted with Community Health in the past to help in management oversight of our nursing facility program. Johnson Memorial now pools resources with our partners in the Suburban Health Organization to take advantage of economies of scale to provide management services for all the homes owned collectively among its members. None of these relationships have resulted in, nor were developed to, facilitate illegal referrals as the former employee of Community Health states in his lawsuit against his former employer. Any conjecture that the termination of the management agreement with Community Health, or the resignation of the former CEO of Johnson Memorial, is related to the previously mentioned lawsuit is completely false.

Johnson Memorial is pleased to own nursing homes associated with the Miller’s Merry Manor organization and also Greenwood Village South. Both of these organizations are known for operating high-quality facilities. In fact, 27 of these 34 homes are rated a 4 or 5 star facility by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Of note, Greenwood Village South is a 5 star-rated facility.

It would be fiscally irresponsible for Johnson Memorial not to participate in the UPL/IGT program that has brought so many federal tax dollars into our community. Johnson Memorial has used the dollars it has received from this program to invest in the facilities, services, physicians and equipment needed to meet the healthcare needs of both the nursing homes and our hospital. The health care financial environment is not an easy one for hospitals. In fact, so far this year, Becker’s Healthcare reports that 47 hospitals in the United States have either closed or declared bankruptcy. If it were not for the nursing home UPL/IGT program, Johnson Memorial would not be able to provide the basic and enhanced services our community needs, including the recent improvements to our emergency department and outpatient services facilities.

Johnson Memorial is proud to serve our patients in Johnson and the surrounding counties. We are proud of our physicians, nurses, volunteers and other staff that have worked so hard to provide great care and to always put the patient first. Care that has led to us being the only hospital in the area to carry a Leapfrog Group “A” rating for patient safety. Care that has led us to be recognized as the third best hospital in the state for the treatment of sepsis. You have my word, both as CEO and as a physician, at Johnson Memorial Health, great care starts here.

David Dunkle

President/CEO of Johnson Memorial Health

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