Hospital profits

Most Lowcountry hospitals came out on top between 2008 and 2011. Here are the region’s hospital profits and losses during that four-year period:

Trident Health: $223,242,553

Medical University Hospital: $71,454,363

East Cooper Regional Medical Center: $49,001,870

Mount Pleasant Hospital: -$11,935,395 (opened in 2010)

St. Francis Xavier: $134,685,643

Roper Hospital: $207,906,942

Source: S.C. Department of Health and Human Services

The executive director of the Medical University Hospital called financial hospital data about individual profits posted on the S.C. Department of Health and Human Service’s website last week “very misleading” and “not entirely correct.”

The data, spanning four years from 2008 to 2011, shows that most South Carolina hospitals made millions of dollars during the height the recession. Trident Health made the biggest profit of any hospital in the state — a $223.2 million profit between 2008 and 2011. The Medical University Hospital, a nonprofit facility, made significantly less, $71.4 million during that same four-year period.

Dr. Pat Cawley, executive director of the Medical University Hospital, called the numbers misleading because they don’t reflect the hospital’s total revenue and expenses.

“You really need to look at those things as a percent of the total revenues, which for us, puts us in the 1 to 2 percent margin range, which is very, very small,” he said, meaning the hospital spends most of what it makes.

“From our point of view, it’s very misleading in terms of the financial health of the hospitals in the state, particularly MUSC.”

But S.C. Health and Human Service’s Director Tony Keck argues the numbers speak for themselves. He said the data shows many of the 60 hospitals included in the report are financially healthy. Even if the General Assembly rejects federal money to expand Medicaid to more residents, these hospitals will fare just fine, he said.

“Even with all the uninsured … hospitals, in general, are doing fairly well,” Keck said.

Keck is taking that message to lawmakers tomorrow. He is scheduled to speak before the Senate budget committee.

Under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, states have the option to expand Medicaid with federal funds for three years. After that, each state is required to cover some of the tab, eventually 10 percent of the expansion costs by 2020.

Last month, the S.C. House of Representatives voted down a proposal to expand Medicaid to more residents. The state Senate could take up the issue before the Legislature breaks in June, but Gov. Nikki Haley has vowed to veto any budget that includes expansion of Medicaid.

South Carolina hospitals, including MUSC, favor expansion and worry that if the state rejects the federal funds, hospitals will lose money and be forced to cut services, lay off employees or possibly close.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.