published Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Erlanger receiving millions in federal funding, staff vacation time to be restored

After months of advocating, Erlanger Health System will soon receive a multi-million dollar cash infusion from two key federal funding pools, hospital officials announced Tuesday.

The news was celebrated at the public hospital, which has sustained heavy losses the last several months. Last month, hospital executives froze vacation time accrual for Erlanger's 4,500 employees in an effort to staunch losses in order to meet its bond covenants in June.

That vacation time will immediately be restored, as soon as the timetable for the funding is established, said Erlanger CEO Kevin Spiegel, who traveled to Washington, D.C. last month with other state medical leaders to advocate for the funding.

“Our collective voices have been heard, and I am gratified we have finally been acknowledged for the mission, dedication and hard work we do on behalf of this community," Spiegel wrote in a memo to hospital employees Tuesday.

"We not only deserved our fair share of this funding, but we earned it by providing this community close to $90 million in uncompensated care.”

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave the hospital word today that it had approved waivers to include Erlanger in what's called the Public Hospital Supplemental Payment Pool, a fund which could allow Erlanger to draw down tens of millions of dollars.

The federal agency also restored funds for what is called state "disproportionate share" fund, which provides millions that hospitals split to help hospials cover care for the uninsured.

Before Tuesday's decision by CMS, Tennessee was the only state that did not have that fund restored for 2014.

Officials said that translated to an $8.5 million loss for Erlanger this fiscal year.

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