More insured patients chose to be hospitalized at Jackson Health System over the summer than administrators had expected, a small development that may portend big changes for Miami-Dade’s taxpayer-supported hospital network.
Jackson, which has begun a 10-year building plan and public relations campaign to upgrade facilities and shed the hospital system’s image as the healthcare provider of last resort, on Monday reported growing revenues from patients with commercial insurance, Medicaid managed care and other forms of coverage.
Mark Knight, Jackson’s chief financial officer, said the system long has relied on counselors to qualify uninsured patients for Medicaid, the public health insurance program for low-income people, to help offset the financial burden of providing free and discounted care.
But over the summer, Knight said, the percentage of Medicaid patients hospitalized overnight at one of Jackson’s three hospitals dipped slightly, and the rate of insured patients inched upwards.
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“This is much more sustainable,’’ Knight told members of the Public Health Trust that governs Jackson. “This is more patients seeking care, and more patients being directed to Jackson.”
As further evidence that patients are choosing Jackson over other healthcare providers, Knight noted that in July fewer hospitalizations originated from the emergency room — the costly fallback of the uninsured.
In July, he said, 61 percent of patient admissions began in the emergency room, compared to 64 percent in 2014 and 67 percent in 2013.
“We’re starting to see some real, organic, year-over-year growth,’’ Knight said.
Part of Jackson’s 10-year plan to attract more patients includes opening eight to 12 new urgent care centers throughout Miami-Dade. Jackson trustees approved two new centers at their meeting on Monday, bringing the total to four.
The two centers — one in South Beach, another in Cutler Bay — will open in about 12 months. Design, construction, equipment and other costs will total about $3.4 million for the two centers. Building costs are funded through the so-called Miracle Bond Program, which includes $830 million in taxpayer funds approved by county voters in November 2013.
In other news, Knight reported that Miami-Dade’s $1.8-billion-a-year hospital system is on track to close the year ending Sept. 30 with a $61 million profit.
Jackson trustees also approved a legislative agenda that includes advocating for Medicaid expansion in Florida, supporting the growth of telemedicine and lobbying the state to reimburse the hospital system for providing medical care to Miami-Dade inmates.