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Community Health Center of Branch County facing mounting financial losses

COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - Concerns over mounting financial losses at the Community Health Center of Branch County are growing. Last night, a report on the hospital’s audit for 2013 presented at the hospital’s Board of Trustees meeting showed the bottom line at CHC was bleeding more than twice as much red ink as previously indicated. The audit indicated a year end net loss of income of 4.3 million dollars as opposed to the net loss of just under $2 million reflected in the 2013 year end statement prepared internally at CHC.  Still, it was pointed out by the administration that the health center’s balance sheet is well positioned for the future with over $10 million in unrestricted cash and investments available. 

A major ingredient of the losses is declining reimbursements which, according to CHC officials, is an industry-wide trend, and while not unique to CHC, has to be addressed. That includes a reduction in expenses above and beyond the 5.5% decrease that has already taken place this year. And going forward, the administration and Board of Trustees remain on task to identify a strategic partner to take advantage of greater efficiencies and economies of scale. 

As part of a larger health system, CHC says it would also have greater negotiating leverage with Blue Cross Blue Shield. The consultant in the hospital’s search for a strategic partner doesn’t believe the audit adjustment will deter the potential partners they’ve identified. A recommendation on a partner from the hospital board is expected before the end of May with the proposal then forward to the County Board of Commissioners, which will have the final say.