The Pima County Board of Supervisors Monday unanimously supported a partnership with Tucson Medical Center that has the potential to infuse as much as $11 million in new federal healthcare funds into the local economy.
The initiative not only meshes with Pima County’s goal of reinforcing community health and wellness, but will help support Southern Arizona’s largest community hospital and a key driver of the local economy.
It is also part of a broader goal to enhance economic development opportunities, since access to healthcare is critical for business expansion and relocation.
TMC is eligible to draw down as much as $8.5 million in federal funding for ongoing physician training activities. The hospital trains an average of 50 physicians annually in internal medicine and general surgery through programs affiliated with the University of Arizona.
TMC also is eligible to secure federal funds set aside to help hospitals that provide a disproportionate share of indigent care. TMC wrote off $40 million in charity care and bad debt charges in 2011, with that number expected to climb to $70 million in 2012.
Because both of these new opportunities require a local match partner, Pima County’s $5.4 million investment ensures a 2-for-1 match will come back to the region to help build a healthy, sustainable community.
Discussions are under way with TMC to come up with creative strategies to ensure the budget is made whole and that the County will be better positioned to meet mandates for medical and behavioral health services.
“In this time of increasingly limited resources, it only makes sense to bring as many community partners to the table as possible to meet the needs of local residents,” said Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. “TMC shares Pima County’s commitment to ensuring that those who need care receive it, while also ensuring a robust healthcare workforce.”
Tucson Medical Center likewise looks forward to the collaboration.
“We applaud Pima County’s commitment to create a sustainable hospital and medical community for our Southern Arizona communities,” said Judy Rich, president and chief executive officer, Tucson Medical Center. “This investment will help us continue to address the critical physician shortage and access to care issues facing our community.”