by Jay Nolan
The Knox County Hospital saves lives. That’s why this newspaper has been such a strong advocate for the hospital. Even though we report both good and bad news about the hospital, its finances, activities and staff, overall we believe Knox County is definitely better off with a hospital than without one.
In fact, 48% of heath care provided in our state comes from rural hospitals, according to state commissioner of agriculture and candidate for governor, James Comer. Clearly rural hospitals play a huge role in protecting and preserving the health and welfare of our citizens.
But, our local hospital, like many others across the state, also faces a huge financial challenge. That’s partly due to another statistic Comer cited when he visited the Advocate offices recently. The commissioner stated, “Twenty-five percent of the state is on Medicaid now.”
Because Medicaid is a federal program that often reimburses the local hospital far less than the actual cost for many services, rural hospitals provide these services at a loss.
Making things even worse, hospital administrator Ray Canady tells me more than 70-75% of the patients treated from Knox and from surrounding counties are Medicaid or Medicare patients. No business can succeed if it loses money on three out of every four of its customers! A small rural hospital like ours is no exception.
What is the answer?
I believe one answer is for our hospital to have more customers that can pay the full cost.
And, that’s why I say racing at “Thunder Gap” could help our hospital. How?
Keeneland recently announced they are committed to investing $30 million to build their new facility and bringing hundreds of new jobs to this county. Jobs with benefits will provide hundreds more people access to good insurance. This private insurance pays much more of our hospital’s cost.
So, lets all hope Keeneland’s project is hugely successful. Their success will help many local people, local businesses, and expand our local tax base. So indirectly, yes, I do think those horses could help our hospital.
What do you think?