Bradford Regional Medical Center, member hospital of Upper Allegheny Health System, has announced that due to more than $1 million in losses over four years in its dental center program, the hospital will discontinue dental services at BRMC and its Mt. Jewett Health Center, effective April 27, 2018. The losses are the result of ongoing inadequate levels of reimbursement from Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program.
“The amount BRMC is reimbursed by Pennsylvania Medicaid is far short of our cost of care. BRMC’s dental centers lose significant money on every Medicaid patient and a majority of BRMC’s dental patients are covered by Pennsylvania Medicaid. In 2017 alone the dental centers lost nearly $300,000. The state’s Medicaid reimbursement for dental care is out of sync with the cost of care,” said Dennis McCarthy, spokesperson for BRMC.
McCarthy explained that BRMC’s dental losses have steadily grown since 2014 after Pennsylvania Medicaid significantly altered reimbursement. The losses continued despite improvements in efficiency, searches for grant funding, and bringing in a consultant to help improve operations. “It is clear the situation is only getting worse with no end in sight. Continued losses are unsustainable leaving the hospital with a difficult decision,” he said.
This is truly a regrettable situation. However, the losses being incurred are not sustainable and BRMC cannot allow heavy losses in the dental service to place hospital services at BRMC in jeopardy,” McCarthy said.
He said reimbursement for most dental procedures under Pennsylvania Medicaid have not increased in 13 years. “Reimbursement in Pennsylvania has not kept up with the cost of care. We need to be paid for the cost of care, nothing more. Currently that is not the case in Pennsylvania nor does it appear it will change anytime soon,” he said.
“Medical services at the Mt. Jewett Health Center are not affected by this decision. The Mt. Jewett Health Center will continue to offer a full complement of family care medical services,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said the decision to close dental services at BRMC and Mt. Jewett was carefully considered by the Upper Allegheny Health System Board of Directors. “In the final analysis there was no other decision that could have been made,” he said.
In contrast, Upper Allegheny Health System dental services at Olean General Hospital and its Delevan Health and Dental Center receive significantly higher reimbursement for dental services under New York Medicaid. “The Medicaid reimbursement in New York for dental care is much more generous,” he said.
McCarthy said that health system officials brought this situation to state representatives. “Sadly, there is no current fix for the problem coming from Harrisburg.”
“We know the dental service is a community need and dental health is important. The dental centers at BRMC and Mt. Jewett have more than 8,000 patients and record more than 19,000 patient visits annually. However, without reimbursement which covers the cost of care it is simply not possible to sustain the service,” McCarthy said.
The centers employ 12 full time equivalent positions. BRMC will attempt to place some of the clinical dental staff into Olean General Hospital’s dental centers and give office staff the opportunity for open jobs for which they are qualified at BRMC and OGH. “We will do everything we can to assist these employees in locating employment,” McCarthy said.
The dental centers will assist current patients by providing a list of dentists within the region.