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July 1, 2015

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Sisolak: ‘Real possibility’ that financial woes will take down UMC

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak talks to reporters after testifying before the Assembly Government Affairs Committee on the third day of the 2011 legislative session Wednesday, February 9, 2011 in Carson City.

CARSON CITY – There is a “real possibility” that University Medical Center could close due to financial problems, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said today.

The hospital is losing money and the county can’t afford to raise its subsidy, he told the Assembly Government Affairs Committee today. Sisolak said he doesn't want to see the hospital shut down, but he outlined its problems to the committee and later to reporters.

He said UMC is a "safety net," adding that paying patients and those with insurance are going to other hospitals. Another problem is collecting payments from insurance companies, which Sisolak said he has talked with the district attorney’s office about.

“UMC will never be a profit center but it can only lose so much money,” he said. Residents in Clark County fund the hospital and pick up the shortfall.

The hospital takes up 5.7 percent of the county’s $1.2 billion 2011 budget. Sisolak said an effort is being made to get private financing in place.

“This can’t continue to function the way it has been,” he said.

Asked why other hospitals are profiting, Sisolak said their labor is cheaper and there is no collective bargaining. But he added that employees helped last year in working to solve financial problems.

Sisolak and Clark County Manager Don Burnette briefed the committee on the functions of the county and its financial condition.

Burnette said the proposal by Gov. Brian Sandoval to shift more duties to the county would cost another $75 million. He said he was “very concerned” and added, "we don’t have the ability to absorb those expenses."

The shift in revenue hits at the county's health and human services, he said. The county reduced its general fund spending by $122.4 million from fiscal 2010 to 2011.

“We’re getting close to breaking,” Burnette said.

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