Thursday, October 8, 2009

Homecoming being celebrated at B-W

The culmination of homecoming week at Baldwin-Woodville High School will be the crowning of new royalty on Friday night after the football game.
B-W takes to the field against Ellsworth in the football game.
Pictured above are the senior candidates for homecoming King and Queen, from left: Amy Jo Bakke and Taylor Mabis; Tana Mabis and Luke Vanasse; Rachel Paulson and Jon Willert; Bailey Larson and Logan LaFavor; and Ashley Robole and Ben Simons.

Baldwin man killed in accident

On Friday, September 25 at 8:36 a.m. the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office responded to a single car crash on 100th Ave., approximately one-half mile east of STH 128 in the Town of Springfield.
A 1999 GMC pickup, driven by Joseph J. Anderson, age 34, of Baldwin was traveling eastbound on 100th Ave. when it left the road and rolled, striking some trees. Anderson was ejected from the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene by the St. Croix County Medical Examiner.
Mr. Anderson was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. This is the 11th traffic fatality of 2009. The crash remains under investigation by the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office.

BAMC rate increase is an attempt to “even out” increases

The notice in this issue of a rate increase for Baldwin Area Medical Center (BAMC) is part of a process to even out increases as part of the annual budget process for the hospital. The process was instituted last year.
According to BAMC Chief Financial Officer Karen Traynor, in Wisconsin “hospitals are seeing decreases in patients” and at the same time seeing “increases in non-compensated care” or for patients who qualify for discounted or free care, which the Hospital characterizes as “Community Care.”
Traynor said the Hospital has about $2.8 million in uncompensated care on gross revenues of approximately $25 million, or about 7%.
Chief Executive Officer Alison Page said the hospital is approaching the decrease in patients and increase in uncompensated care in several ways. First, she said, the hospital is “trying to control our costs. This place runs very lean.” In addition, the Hospital attempts to connect people to coverage if possible.
So, said Page, the Hospital is doing more than just raising prices.
The hospital in a prepared statement said “The Board of Trustees, administration and medical staff of Baldwin Area Medical Center are committed to maintaining high quality, cost effective health care services for residents of the communities served by the Medical Center. In fulfilling its obligation to maintain the financial health of the organization, Baldwin Area Medical Center monitors the need for rate adjustments and periodically implements changes.
“Through a comprehensive budget forecasting process, Baldwin Area Medical Center has determined that a rate increase is necessary at this time. The increase will be effective November 1, 2009 and will increase gross patient revenues by 9.0% on an annualized basis. The Medical Center last implemented a 9.5% increase on October 3, 2008.
A question and answer format follows:
Q. Why is there a need for BAMC to implement a rate increase at this time?
A. A rate increase is necessary at this time to ensure that the Medical Center is able to maintain its highly qualified staff, to secure current technologies and resources, and as a means to meet the increasing costs of providing care. In addition, the rate increase will, in part, provide the revenues that are necessary to offset the high level of unpaid health care claims (bad debt) and the continued shortfalls in payments from government health programs (Medicare and Medicaid); shortfalls that are indicative of payments that fall below the actual cost of care for the service provided. Rates paid for Medicare and Medicaid patients are prescribed by the Federal and State governments. While the Medical Center’s classifications a Critical Access Hospital in 2004 resulted in improved Medicare and Medicaid program reimbursement, that reimbursement still falls short of true (total) costs for the care delivered.
Economic times have been challenging in all industries. The Wisconsin Hospital Association has begun a quarterly survey process of State hospitals to capture real-time data regarding the market’s impact on health care. The most recent findings were published in April 2009 and are available from a link at the following WHA website:
Among other information, the report cites:
“As the national economic downturn tightens its grip upon the state, Wisconsin hospitals continue to see margins drop, charity care increase at an alarming pace, and bad debt climb as patients are unable to pay their bills.
“It is a situation that is causing a great deal of anxiety not only among hospital executives, but also among community leaders. As some of the largest employers in the state, hospitals are an integral part of the community’s health network, but they also are responsible for a large portion of its economic health. A healthy hospital fosters a healthy community.
“The health of Wisconsin hospitals is on the decline.”
Q. What has Baldwin Area Medical Center experienced in regard to uncompensated health care?
Q. So if “the health of Wisconsin hospitals is on the decline” as measured by recent hospital fiscal performance indicators and cited by the WHA, what does that mean for the quality of the care that patients are receiving in the state of Wisconsin?
A. We are pleased to cite another publication from the Wisconsin Hospital Association, a new release dated June 26, 2009 in which it is reported that a “Federal Agency Ranks Wisconsin #1 in Health Care Quality” as measured and released by the Federal Agency for Health care Research and Quality. In fact, Wisconsin has been in either the #1 or #2 position since 2006 and is cited as a potential model for national and state health reform programs. The press release is available directly from
Q. WHA identifies a hospital as a vital part of a community. What economic value does Baldwin Area Medical Center bring to the community?
A. This is information we’ve been pleased to make available to the community within the past year. The Wisconsin Hospital Association has provided hospitals with a standardized tool that can be used to calculate the economic value of a rural community hospital. We bring 245 direct jobs to the community, one small part of the total 435 jobs that are derived from the operation of the Medical Center within our community.
Q. What does it mean for the Medical Center to implement a 9% rate increase?
A. The rate increase means that the Medical Center’s gross patient revenues will increase by 9% on an annualized basis. “Gross Revenue” means the total charges generated by the Medical Center from inpatients and outpatients for services provided regardless of the amount the Medical Center expects to collect.
In fact, there are multiple payers, including Medicare, Medicaid and a number of commercial payers, for which the rate increase will result in no additional revenue to the Medical Center.
By way of illustration, for every $1.00 of additional inpatient revenue generated by the rate increase, the Medical Center estimates it will collect approximately 20¢ prior to adjustment for bad debt and Community Care program discounts.
Q. What does the rate increase mean for the typical patient who utilizes hospital services or sees a provider at the Baldwin Clinic?
A. It depends on the health insurance coverage the patient has, if any, and the specific services used by the patient. The individual’s medical provider will make a determination about the type of service that is appropriate based upon the patient’s presenting medical condition. The health insurance policy is an agreement that exists between the patient and his or her insurance plan. The health insurance policy defines the costs for which the patient is responsible.
For those patients without insurance—approximately 6% of the Medical Center’s business—the Medical Center offers financial assistance that includes opportunity to qualify for a discount or to establish an interest free payment plan. In addition, the Community Care program provides free or discounted care based upon financial need.
An individual or family may qualify for a discount under the Community Care program if their personal income falls below 300% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines as published annually in the Federal Register. Eligibility for Community Care is based upon a combination of family size and income in combination with documentation that no other health insurance is available to the applicant. Discounts are offered on a sliding scale and range from 10% to 100%. This is not an insurance plan and there is no ability on the part of the Medical Center to recover Community Care discounts.
It is also important for uninsured members of the community to look into the state of Wisconsin’s programs that provide access to health insurance for low income residents via BadgerCare (in addition to traditional Medicaid program offerings).

From the Exchanges

  Interesting News Items from

    Surrounding Communities

RIVER FALLS JOURNAL: a burst of progress toward developing the River Falls-based homeless shelter, Our Neighbors’ Place , means the project takes its first big step Oct. 5. It opens a day center at 109 Riverwalk in the downtown. Key organizers gave a presentation at a monthly St. Croix Valley United Way meeting in August. “We went there to tell them we existed…we presented our mission,” said Carole Mottaz, who along with Sue Watters and Mary Jo Sutton have helped a larger group organize and plan a comprehensive three-part shelter. Mottaz said after the United Way meeting, things started happening fast as different groups came forward to say, “We can help with that.” Among the significant developments was the West Central Wisconsin Community Action Agency (West Cap) offer to provide two social workers immediately, one specialized in homelessness issues and the other in literacy. But the two needed a place out of which to work. The pair will be West Cap employees and federal stimulus money will pay their salaries for the first two years. Mottaz says Sutton found the Riverwalk space, which is owned by Joe Boles, and was previously occupied by Global M.A.D.E. The 2,200-square-foot space is not donated, so a top priority is to pay rent for the first year. That can be hard for a charity Mottaz is asking for 100 people to donate $10 a month for a year.

SUN-ARGUS (ELMWOOD): The Elmwood School District approved a Resolution on Thursday, September 10 authorizing the issuance and sale of $500,000 general obligation qualified school construction promissory notes (tax credit). The bonds issued by the District are qualified School Construction Bonds (QSCBs) provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and carry a zero percent interest rate. The deal is the fourth of its kind to be completed in Wisconsin and only the 19th to be completed within the U.S. since the stimulus plan was enacted in February.

CENTRAL ST. CROIX NEWS (HAMMOND): Hammond Village Board trustees say they know they have some tough budgetary decisions coming up and they are turning to village residents to help them make those. This week, every village residence received a “hard copy” of the survey in the mail – along with instructions directing them to the village’s website where they can either complete the survey online or download it and drop it off at the village office or mail it. The introduction of the survey reads: “The new budget cycle is here, the Village would like to ask its citizens to weigh in and tell us what services you find most valuable. In these financially challenging times, we are all being asked to look closely at our budgets and find opportunities to “tighten the belt,” and the Village of Hammond is no different. We will use the results of the survey as input into deciding what to keep, what to trim, and how much to trim.” Completed surveys are due by September 30 and the results will be published online November 9. “I’d rather know that the citizens would prefer to lose the flowers on the main street vs. the brush pickup,” said trustee Erin McComb, who is also the chair of the Personnel & Finance Committee that recommended the survey. “At the end of the day I’d rather get an earful…then (residents) can’t say we didn’t ask them.”

TRIBUNE PRESS REPORTER (GLENWOOD CITY): Chief Dan Wellumson reported to the village board Monday night that he had some bad news and good news. “We have yet to solve the break-ins at the library and St. Luke’s,” he told the board. But the good news is that ten reported thefts have been solved. Wellumson said that they interviewed three juveniles about items being taken from parked cars within the village. The police department has recovered some of the stolen property. But he told the board that one of the juveniles interviewed indicated that $500 was taken from a car parked in front of an establishment in the village. “We have no victim,” he told the board. Apparently no one ever reported the money missing. Wellumson noted that after this item appears in the paper, someone may come forward.