CARES Act funding staves off operating loss at Ballad Health

Provider relief funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act helped Ballad Health, a 21-hospital system in Johnson City, Tenn., record a $17.7 million net operating income in the quarter ended June 30, according to the system’s recent financial report.

Ballad Health received $82.5 million in CARES Act funding in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020. The health system said without the CARES Act funding it lost $48.4 million from operations, $2.2 million from an Epic electronic health record implementation and saw $14.1 million in incremental operating expenses from COVID-19. 

In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, the health system saw its net patient revenue decrease to $379.8 million, a decline of 26.8 percent from the same period last year. 

Ballad Health’s decline in patient revenue was attributed to a volume decrease caused by the pandemic. Acute discharges declined by 22.6 percent, inpatient surgeries dipped by 26.9 percent, emergency department visits decreased 34.7 percent in the three-month period ended June 30. 

Additionally, the health system saw a payer mix shift in the fourth quarter. It said it saw the share of revenue from Medicare fee for service and commercial insurance dip, while revenue from Medicare Advantage grew.

In response to financial challenges attributed to the pandemic, Ballad Health implemented several cost-reduction strategies in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020, including staff furloughs, pay reductions for executive management and deferral of all nonessential expenses. The cuts resulted in about $40 million in savings for the quarter, Ballad Health said. 

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