Dr. Larry Kaiser Addresses Pennsylvania Senate Committee on Appropriations
Dr. Larry Kaiser addresses the Pennsylvania Senate Committee on Appropriations.
Larry R. Kaiser, MD, FACS, Dean of Temple University School of Medicine and President & Chief Executive Officer of Temple University Health System, presented testimony on Wednesday afternoon, October 12, before the Pennsylvania Senate Committee on Appropriations about the need for continued state support of the mission of Temple's healthcare enterprise – which includes educating the next generation of physicians and allied-health providers; providing quality care to all patients, including the most vulnerable populations in Philadelphia and throughout the region; and researching and developing innovative therapies to help ensure wellness and/or treat disease.
Dr. Kaiser was one of 10 Temple University leaders (including University Trustee Patrick O'Connor and President Ann Weaver Hart), Mayor Nutter, and other community leaders to address the Pennsylvania Senate delegation about the direct and indirect value of Temple University to the residents of Philadelphia and the entire state. The Senate Committee Hearing, led by Senator Jake Corman, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Senator Vince Hughes, Chair of the Democratic Appropriations Committee, was held on Temple University's main campus, in Sullivan Hall.
During his remarks, Dr. Kaiser emphasized the vital role of Temple Health in educating new physicians – about one-half of whom remain in Pennsylvania to work with nurses and other health-related professionals to deliver care to the residents of the Commonwealth. And the care provided is no longer just about treating disease, explained Dr. Kaiser. Rather, "it's the provision of wellness … and it's a team sport," he said.
Dr. Kaiser reminded the Senators that Temple's Health System is a critical economic engine for the City and state – in that it provides approximately 6,000 people with good, family-sustaining wages and benefits. He added that about 90% of our employees are Pennsylvania residents; and, among those, 60% live in Philadelphia.
In providing perspective for the Senators about the breadth and scope of patient-care services provided at Temple University Hospital, Dr. Kaiser noted that the hospital discharged 27,000 patients last year … it's the only Level I Trauma Center in southeastern Pennsylvania with a Burn Unit … and its Episcopal-based behavioral health division handles more than 10,000 Crisis Response Center visits annually.
He also reminded them of the Hospital's indispensable role as the de facto public hospital in the largest American city without a public hospital. "More than 80% of our patients are covered by government programs, including 30% by Medicare and 54% by Medicaid," he said. "Among Pennsylvania's full-service safety-net providers, Temple University Hospital is unique in serving the greatest volume and highest percentage of Medicaid patients.
"That's our mission … and we are very serious about our mission – but it clearly presents some financial challenges," continued Dr. Kaiser. "During the past fiscal year, as a result of Act 49's Medicaid Modernization, TUH achieved a small operating margin – less than one percent. But under the current state budget, we are slated for reduced Medicaid supplemental payments of at least $33 million. No hospital that serves such an extraordinarily high disproportionate share of Medicaid patients can achieve financial stability without Commonwealth support. Adequate reimbursement is critical to our ability to provide continuous access to quality care for patients and good jobs for our communities."
At the conclusion of Dr. Kaiser's remarks, Senator Hughes expressed his awareness and understanding of the critical role of Temple University Hospital in providing healthcare services for the uninsured and under-insured populations of North Philadelphia and beyond. "It's a critical medical service that Temple provides," he said, "and if you weren't there, others would have to do it … and they couldn’t handle it."