BAR HARBOR, Maine — Despite being recognized both in New England and nationally as being among the best for patient satisfaction, Mount Desert Island Hospital lost $2 million in operating expenses this past fiscal year, hospital officials said at the institution’s annual meeting Monday night.
U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, the keynote speaker at the event, promised he was trying to help rectify the situation. Michaud attended the meeting after making appearances earlier in the day in Ellsworth, Trenton and elsewhere in Bar Harbor.
Speaking in the ballroom of the Bar Harbor Club on West Street, he said the Obama administration is committed to coming up with a “more equitable reimbursement” scheme for Medicaid and Medicare payments.
According to the hospital’s annual report, the hospital was not reimbursed for $14 million of the $64 million it spent on patients last year.
“We’re the oldest state in the nation per capita,” Michaud said of Maine. “We’re second from the bottom for Medicare reimbursement rates.”
From these statistics, he said, it is easy to see why Maine has some of the highest insurance premiums in the country. But he said he had an idea on how hospital reimbursement rates in Maine could improve.
“Give Maine [health care] providers the same reimbursement rate as the Boston market rate,” Michaud said, eliciting applause from the more than 100 people who had gathered in the club’s ballroom.
If Maine providers were reimbursed at the same rate, he said, $107 million more in federal payments would come to Maine this year.
Michaud also said Maine veterans needed better access to health care. For some, getting the health care they need involves several days of travel. He said he has heard stories about veterans from Aroostook County driving for four days — two days to Boston and two days back home — just for one medical appointment.
“That’s unreasonable. We should not be delivering our care to people who served our country in that way,” Michaud said.
Veterans should be able to receive Veterans Affairs-funded health care at their local hospitals, he said.
Aside from Michaud’s 15-minute talk, meeting attendees also heard tributes to Dr. Llewellyn Cooper, who worked at the hospital for 40 years and served as president of its medical staff. Cooper died in January at the age of 83.
“He was a beloved member of our community,” MDI hospital President and CEO Art Blank said Monday. “Dr. Cooper will long be remembered, both for how he cared for his patients, and the staff he worked with.”
Meg Carroll was named the hospital’s 2010 Employee of the Year, beating out fellow nominees Lynne Assaf, Sharon Kenausis and Lani Naihe. Robert F. Shea was named the hospital’s 2010 Volunteer of the Year.
Dr. Vince Messer officially became the newest member of the hospital’s board of trustees at the meeting, joining six others whose appointments to the board were renewed Monday evening.