Monday, Geary Community Hospital’s Interim CEO Don Smithburg responded to the news that Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and Republican Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning had reached a compromise on the subject of Medicaid expansion.

Smithburg said what he had heard so far about the compromise was encouraging.

“If it passes — and again, all the signals are it’s going to pass and it’s going to be the right bill — that it will help GCH,” he said. “It’s not the only solution to GCH’s problem, but it is a really key one because it provides coverage for many citizens who don’t have access to it right now.”

Coverage for the otherwise uninsured stands to benefit GCH, according to Smithburg, because a wide range of the people the hospital serves have no coverage. On average, the hospital spends about $4 million each year in indigent care.

“It shows the state is serious about supporting hospitals like GCH. In the end, the state is stepping up to do their part,” he said.

By Smithburg’s estimation, however, Medicaid expansion won’t be enough to save the hospital on its own.

“We’re still a long ways from that,” he said. “But it will help enormously. And again, expanded Medicaid is one of the four-part recipe standing to improve the hospital. Expansion is number one. It looks like that’s going to happen. Philanthropy — and that’s in the pipeline. Operational improvement — that’s in the pipeline — and then the fourth would be a local, modest increase increase to the tax base.”

According to Smithburg, all of these things will help fill the gap of $4 million in care for the uninsured, but won’t relieve the hospital from it entirely.

“But it will get us to the point of stability,” he said.

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