CPGH rates to increase

Radiology, emergency, in-patient prices jump, while others decrease

Posted: Monday, February 03, 2003

New rates, will take effect this month in the Central Peninsula General Hospital's radiology, emergency and in-patient departments. While prices for some of the facility's services and medical procedures will jump, others will enjoy a decrease as the hospital seeks to align its prices more evenly with statewide rates and, more specifically, with CPGH's competitors.

"The new rates are not to exceed prices at Providence Medical Center (in Anchorage) in 2001," said hospital Chief Financial Officer Ed Burke. "This is consistent with the approach of matching the nurses' pay there."

The increases represent the Kenai Peninsula Borough-owned hospital's second round of rate hikes in five months, following a 6 percent increase approved in September. The CPGH Inc. board of directors, the governing body for the nonprofit organization that manages the facility, predicated the earlier rate increase on the subsequent completion of a more detailed analysis of charges.

"This is to make us more competitive," said hospital CEO David Gilbreath. "We've analyzed in-patient and out-patient revenues in certain areas."

Although hospital officials would not identify exactly which services would carry higher charges or how much the price hikes would be, citing proprietary concerns, Burke said price cuts will be applied to ultrasound procedures and magnetic resonance imaging, the procedure capable of taking a snapshot of internal organs for diagnosis.

"We had some prices that were too high. In other places, we had the lowest prices in the state," he said. "MRI is a classic example of a procedure that needed to be scaled."

Burke said the MRI cost would be trimmed down from being more than $1,500 to about $1,200.

Gilbreath said since coming to the hospital in November, he had heard specific complaints about the cost of having an MRI done. He said patients were electing to leave the peninsula to have the procedure in Anchorage, where he said it cost between $400 and $500 less.

Gilbreath said patients were able to get more for the same money by going away, and he said this particular rate drop was done to improve the cost advantage to keep peninsula residents from having to travel.

"Right now, we literally have patients who fly to Anchorage and go to dinner, have the MRI done, stay in a nice room, have the best breakfast in town and still save money," he said. "We want them to come here, where they're closer to home."

The board unanimously approved the resolution.

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