On Nov. 19 Douglas Mayor Danny Ortega Jr. and members of the City Council meet with representatives from Southeast Arizona Medical Center (SAMC) in a joint work session at the Douglas Visitor’s Center.
At the Sept. 12 city council meeting then Chief Executive Officer for Southeast Arizona Medical Center Brian Bickel gave a presentation to mayor and council on the Safety Net Care Pool (SNCP.
SNCP was established in 2011and was approved by Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) in 2012, to reimburse participating hospitals for uncompensated care cost provided to AHCCS members and the uninsured.
Eligible hospitals must receive disproportionate share payments and have a local governmental entity sponsor.
SAMC is asked the City of Douglas to be that governmental entity sponsor and also provide them with $300,000. The funds are to be paid directly to AHCCCS then matched by the federal government and distributed to the hospital quarterly. SAMC had until Sept. 30 to have this agreement signed and returned to AHCCCS for processing if they wanted to take part in the SNCP.
The CEO also approached the county with the same proposal. The county felt they were in a better position to sign into this agreement; the request was signed and submitted to the state on Oct. 2.
“The county approved the IGA with AHCCCS for this money for the Douglas hospital,” Douglas City Manager Carlos De La Torre said. “(The County representatives) they said we are only going to execute that agreement if the city participates in providing some funding for that IGA.”
County representatives proposed to participate in a one to one match. In order for the city to participate in this one to one match they would have to inter into an IGA with the county.
As of Nov. 27 AHCCCS has not yet approved or denied SAMC’s agreement.
At the Nov. 19 meeting SAMC’s currently CEO Annie Benson presented how closing the hospital would impact Douglas and surrounding communities.
All agreed that Douglas needs a health care facility that is close to provide care.
SAMC has made some small changes to the hospital to save funds. But both Mayor Ortega and De La Torre feel that there hasn’t been any long term plans made by the hospital for subtlety.
“We have to be supportive to the hospital, but at the same time we cannot just sit back and see what they are going to do,” De La Torre said. “There are other health care providers that have approached the city that said we are ready to move in there and build a facility in Douglas.”
“The council wants to support SAMC but at the same time does not want to leave Douglas without health care,” De La Torre added. “If someone else wants to come in and provide that all we really care is that Douglas has the best care from with “A” provider or “B” provider. It comes down to be a business decisions at that time.”