Senator Boozman visits hospital to discuss COVID-19 vaccine, insurance, and finances

Senator visits hospital to discuss COVID-19 vaccine, insurance, and finances

PARAGOULD, Ark. (KAIT) - Senator John Boozman visited a few places in Region 8 to get input from people on the front lines to ultimately designate where money will be spent in the future.

Friday morning, Senator Boozman visited with administrators at Arkansas Methodist Medical Center in Paragould and other officials.

The meeting lasted a little over an hour, and they wasted no time bringing up the hospital’s concerns.

AMMC said their insurance reimbursement is low.

For example, a nine-day patient stay for a right ankle fracture costs $32,144. They were reimbursed $8.34.

Hospital officials said this is a threat to rural or small hospitals.

“Whatever problems the hospital has is intervening on their behalf. The one thing I can do is have people take those phone calls, discuss it, and the good news is the hospital’s in the right,” Boozman said when asked about his plans for the issue.

The hospital’s officials also shed light on psychological stress among all employees and how no one was paying attention to it.

President Barry Davis commended all of their hard work and said they have not hired travel nurses to take the workload but offered their staff “incentives.”

He also mentioned worrying about the upcoming “surge” of COVID-19 cases projected to come in March 2021.

David admitted he’s disappointed at a national level at no unified response to the virus, saying discussions became political.

The meeting also included a discussion regarding a COVID-19 vaccine. Senator Boozman supports the vaccine and hopes to see it available soon.

“The way to get back to normalcy, which we definitely all want to do, is to take the vaccine. We can be so proud as a nation,” he said. “When I talk to the people at NIH, the people who have worked so hard on this, no one thought it was humanly possible to develop a vaccine in the amount of time that we have.”

He added that he’s “very comfortable” with the vaccine and said he’s “grown up with vaccines with various diseases.”

Lastly, the group discussed money and COVID-19 relief.

Senator Boozman said he is leaning towards the new economic bill worth $500 billion. He said it reprograms helping hospitals, schools, and small businesses.

AMMC mentioned their money issues while Senator Boozman took notes.

Hospital officials said they suffered a cybersecurity attack about two months ago.

They lost files and have allocated more money towards more cybersecurity.

Also, the hospital said they are to post their charge rates online, effective Jan. 1. To comply with this, it will cost them $100,000-$150,000.

“The red tape is choking us,” Davis said. “We’d like to see this go away.”

With this information, Senator Boozman said they will work to implement these changes.

“What we’re doing now is working on the finances, so we’re going to get that done in the next week or so, that’s the first priority,” he said. “Then, along with that, they brought up just some really good ideas just to how we can make community hospitals function easier.”

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