ST. THOMAS – Members of the Committee on Finance chaired by Sen. Kurt A. Vialet convened in a meeting at the Capitol Building on Wednesday to receive testimony on the proposed Fiscal Year 2021 Executive Budget for the Government of the Virgin Islands of the United States. Invited testifiers are officials from the Schneider Regional Medical Center (SRMC) and St. Thomas East End Medical Center Corporation (STEEMCC).
The recommended FY 2021 budget for SRMC totals $22,500,000 from the General Fund. Comparatively, to the General Fund appropriation for FY 2020, this is a ten percent reduction of the lump sum. Dr. Luis Amaro, Interim Chief Executive Officer Schneider Regional Medical Center stated that SRMC goals are to become a High-Reliability Organization, to have financial solvency, and to ensure the health and safety of patients and staff. The projected FY 2021 operating revenue totals $53.8 million; an increase of $2.1 million in comparison to FY 2020. The projected operating expenses are estimated at $85.1 million; which represents an increase of $1.5 million; according to Dr. Amaro. Moreover, SRMC has a cash intake of $55.6 million due to the 2019 reimbursements of the 2019 rate corrections, cost audit reports, and the 100% adjustment in the FMAP rate from January 2019 to November 2019.
The FY 2021 budget breakdown is as follows: $40,551,441 for personnel services, $1,944,000 for capital outlays, $14,925,622 for fringe benefits, $13,954,671 for other services/charges, $4,169,161 for utilities, and supplies that totals $10,060,454. Sen. Oakland Benta mentioned that additional monies are needed for supplies. “The amount allocated for supplies are simply not enough. The Territory is dealing with the COVID-19 Pandemic and tourists recently began visiting our shores. There must be adequate supplies to combat the virus,” Sen. Benta said.
Defending the budget, Dr. Amaro noted that no hospital across the country can admit with total confidence that they can beat the pandemic. SRMC is staying ahead of the game with increased personnel equipment and expanded bed capacity. For those reasons, funding for SRMC must be realized to remain victorious against the pandemic. Sen. Stedman Hodge inquired about the rise in overtime. Dr. Amaro indicated that overtime is inevitable due to the inaccessibility to pool personnel from other medical facilities like on the mainland. Therefore, the staff is requested to work longer hours as needed, especially in incidences such as surgery. In response to a line of questioning by Sen. Vialet, Dr. Amaro stated that SRMC received $5.4 million from the CARES Act and the deadline to expend funds was initially at the end of FY 2020. However, an extension was granted.
Separately, OMB’s recommended FY 2021 budget for STEEMCC totals $1,900,000. However, STEEMCC Executive Director Moleto Smith requested a total of $2,924,229. Defending the budget, Smith stated that more funds are required to assist the rise in low-income and uninsured patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic that left many unemployed. Furthermore, Smith stated that STEEMCC is in the process of architectural and engineering work to build a new facility. Additional funding sources totals $11,506,395. Out of that $1,239,580 is for the Federal Grant, $2,924,229 for the VI Government Grant, and $7,342,586 for the Program Income. Lastly, Moleto noted that the FY 2021 projected expenditures total $11,506,395. The estimated net patient revenues that total $7,342,586 is inclusive of Medicare revenue, Medicaid revenue, self-pay revenue, and commercial insurance. ###