Money Odds & Ends

Economic downturn takes toll on Wisconsin’s hospitals
Falling revenues are resulting in a strain on Wisconsin’s nonprofit hospitals according to a survey recently conducted by the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA).

According to the survey results, the state’s hospitals, during the first three quarters of the year, reported that: total margins declined 73.5 percent; charity care increased 19.1 percent; bad debt increased 19.6 percent; cash on hand declined in 80 percent of hospitals; and nearly one-third of hospitals had trouble gaining access to capital in 2008.

To cope with the current economic situation, nearly two-thirds of hospitals say they are planning to cancel, delay or scale back capital projects. Nearly one in six are planning to cut existing programs or services and one-third are considering reducing or freezing staffing levels.

"We are very concerned with the survey results because healthy hospitals are essential to maintaining healthy communities in so many ways," said WHA president Steve Brenton. "Wisconsin’s nonprofit hospitals are the front lines of the health care safety net, often the only place people can turn when they have lost their health insurance or simply can’t find access to basic care."

The WHA says that increasing amounts of charity care and inadequate reimbursement from government programs are hurting hospitals’ bottom lines. Hospitals are currently paid less than 50 cents for every dollar they spend treating Medicaid patients. The resulting $635 million shortfall must be shifted to other patients, meaning higher health insurance costs for businesses and families, according to the WHA.

Wisconsin ranks near the bottom nationally in capturing federal revenues for health care, the WHA says.

"If we accomplish only one thing to help address health care costs during these challenging times, it has to be aggressively going after our fair share of health care dollars from Washington," Brenton said. "We have to start making a substantial effort to reduce Medicaid cost shifting and the inflationary effect it has on the price of health insurance."

Mortgage company to close Middleton office
MortgageIT Inc. announced it will close its Middleton office, eliminating 72 jobs.

The closure is expected by Feb. 9. The office to be closed is located at 1350 Deming Way in Middleton, a suburb of Madison.

MortgageIT, which provides retail, wholesale and correspondent loans and other financial services, is a subsidiary of New York-based Deutsche Bank.

First Choice Mortgage changes name to Inlanta Mortgage
Waukesha-based First Choice Mortgage, a mortgage banker and broker since 1993, has changed its name to Inlanta Mortgage.

After operating with separate names in several states, the company is uniting its partner branches under one name, creating a more consistent identity.

"We’re excited to introduce our new name to our customers and fellow mortgage industry professionals," said John Knowlton, president of Inlanta Mortgage. "Our name change signifies our continued growth, and as we move forward as Inlanta, we will maintain our commitment to providing the best possible service to our customers and partner branches."

Previously operating as First Choice Mortgage in Wisconsin, Iowa and Florida, the company had been using the name Inlanta Mortgage Group, Inc. in Michigan and Minnesota, and Tradition Mortgage in Illinois. Going forward, the company’s name will be Inlanta Mortgage in all states, including the states into which it recently expanded – Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota.

The company has grown to 25 branches in nine states and more than 100 employees.

M&I Trust recognized by industry magazine
M&I Institutional Trust Services was recently named the #1 Best in Class provider for the second year in a row, based on the 2008 Defined Contribution survey by PLANSPONSOR magazine. M&I received 81 Best-in-Class awards from a field of 92 possible categories, outpacing the next highest ranked competitor by 28 awards.  In 58 of those categories M&I ranked #1 overall.

This is the seventh year that M&I has received Best-in-Class awards from PLANSPONSOR magazine.

"M&I clients have again expressed their confidence in us as an elite provider of retirement plan services," said James (Jamie) Cahn, senior vice president and managing director of M&I Institutional Trust Services. "We believe our one-to-one approach and commitment to both plan sponsors and plan participants alike were key in helping us earn 81 Best-in-Class awards, and we are honored to once again be recognized for our outstanding results."

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