At UPMC, the money kept coming in, even when the patients didn’t

by Rich Lord

Surgeries, emergency room visits and inpatient admissions plunged at UPMC’s Western Pennsylvania facilities during the healthcare giant’s most recent fiscal year, but its wealth continued to grow.

This month, UPMC released annual disclosures to the Internal Revenue Service, which requires that tax-exempt institutions detail their finances. Those disclosures, covering a fiscal year ending on June 30, 2020, are a snapshot of UPMC’s finances as they stood roughly four months into the COVID-19 pandemic.

The disclosures came amid a Democratic mayoral primary in which UPMC’s tax-exempt status was an issue. Democratic nominee Ed Gainey ran on a platform of getting more revenue from UPMC, often criticizing incumbent Bill Peduto for his 2014 decision to drop a lawsuit challenging its tax exemption.

According to the disclosures covering UPMC’s Western Pennsylvania operations, and its parent organization, in the fiscal year ending June 30 the system:

  • performed 101,759 surgeries — down from 178,374 in the prior fiscal year
  • served 341,694 ER visits, down even more steeply, from 750,914
  • admitted 121,171 inpatients for a total of 778,907 days, both down around 40%.

Still, UPMC added nearly $800 million to its gross receipts (which reflect all money received before subtracting expenses), putting the Downtown-based parent company and 55 Western Pennsylvania subsidiaries above $20 billion in revenue for the first time.

In response to PublicSource’s questions, UPMC Vice President for Financial Reporting Susan Manko wrote that much of the decline in traditional hospital services was driven by government requests, early in the pandemic, that hospitals postpone many types of surgeries. She wrote that patient volumes began to rebound in June and climbed through the second half of 2020.

Telemedicine revenue may have picked up some of the slack. Telemedicine appointments soared, from around 250 per day to around 15,000 per day in the spring of 2020, according to the disclosures, which did not break out the revenue from those services.

Clear from the disclosures: Federal generosity helped to keep UPMC out of the red.

UPMC Mercy Hospital in Uptown, where the medical center is expanding. (Photo by Jay Manning/ PublicSource)

 

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At UPMC, the money kept coming in, even when the patients didn’t

 

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