Phoebe addresses community about pricing

Officials say the charges for the hospital are lower than the state average and comparable to the region.

As Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital officials prepares for a court appearance concerning the purchase of Palmyra Hospital, they're also taking time to debunk a widespread myth about how expensive their prices are.

During a Wednesday meeting, Phoebe revealed information by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) that makes their prices open to the public. Phoebe officials say this new information proves that those rumors are false.

I think it shows very directly that Phoebe Putney's prices are not the highest in the state, not the highest in the country and certainly for the services we provide right in the middle of the pack of where our prices should be, said Joel Wernick, CEO of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

According to data from the CMS, Phoebe charges 0.4 percent less than the regional average and 11.8 percent less than the state. However the hospital does receive more than the U.S. average for reimbursements on indigent care patients.

The Medicare payments certainly are more because of our disproportionate share but the disproportionate share dollars that we get don't come anywhere close to reflecting the amount of cost that we incur in taking care of patients with an inability to pay, said Kerry Loudermilk, Phoebe Senior Vice President and CFO.

This new data comes as Phoebe prepares for an August court appearance about the acquisition of Palmyra Hospital.

The vice president of general counsel for the hospital says although several programs have already merged, the court ruling halted a complete joining of the two facilities.

To merge some services and eliminate it at the other facility at the present time would be something we'd be very careful about. I'm not sure there are things we would do without running it up before the federal judge, said Thomas Chambliss, VP of General Counsel for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

As Phoebe officials wait on the outcome of their merger with Palmyra, they say hopefully new releases on their prices will serve as a reference for community members to seek the facts to clear up any myths about the hospital.

The public hasn't been able to access the data until now.

(Pricing chart provided by Phoebe on 10 commonly used diagnostically related group procedures [DRGs])Stay connected to as stories develop and the FOX 31 Newscast at 10 PM. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter to join in on the conversation and connect with FOX 31!