Parkland Hospital says it will not ask for a tax increase next year. That’s in spite of millions of dollars the hospital must spend after failing a series of critical federal inspections.
So far, the federally mandated corrections are expected to cost about $31 million. That’s money Parkland must pay in addition to all other expenses required to keep the big county hospital running and build the new Parkland. No one knows the final tally for the required improvements. County Commissioner Maurine Dickey says that’s a bit unsettling.
“How can you make a budget, just like a family budget, how can you make a budget if you don’t know what you’re going to be required to fund under that budget," Dickey said. “So it is a very dicey situation right now.”
Parkland officials told Dallas County Commissioners that the hospital can absorb the additional costs without a tax increase in 2013. They’re counting on improvements in property tax revenue, patient revenue, and additional Medicaid funding. But they say 2014 may likely be a different matter, with new Parkland expenses and debt service.
County Judge Clay Jenkins is confident Parkland and Dallas County can handle the final bill to fix the problems identified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.
“We don’t know contingencies of exactly what things will cost at CMS, but really that’s true of almost any business situation that’s a challenge, such as this,” Jenkins said. “And this has certainly been a huge challenge. Whatever it costs, it’s going to be well within our reserves.”
The $1.3 billion budget outlook presented by Parkland includes 2 percent merit pay raises. Commissioner Elba Garcia says that should be off the table for hospital executives until the problems are fixed. The final Parkland budget will be submitted in August.