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MU Health Care finances improve following February cash shortage

Sara Shahriari

MU Health Care is forecasting a 3.2% revenue increase and a 1% increase in expenses for fiscal year 2024, a sign that the health care network is rebounding from the cash flow shortage in February.

Dustin Thomas, chief financial officer for MU Health Care, presented the budget for the upcoming fiscal year to the UM System Board of Curators’s Health Affairs Committee Tuesday at their scheduled session ahead of the September 7 Board of Curators meeting at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Overall, the health care system is expecting a 6.6% operating gain in the budget.

Over $105 million of the past year’s fiscal year revenue was given to the MU School of Medicine to support “clinical, education and research methods,” Thomas said.

He added that a five-year plan is in the works to incorporate the Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City into MU Health Care’s financial reports. No official timetable was announced for the integration.

Back in June, MU Health Care announced in a news release that it had signed a letter of intent with the Capital Region Medical Center to merge their health systems entirely.

MU Health Care disclosed in February that it did not have enough cash on hand to cover 200 days of expenses, a critical threshold for the financial health of the institution. But in April, Thomas projected that the health care network would surpass its goal of having a $45 million operating margin by the end June.

The operating margin had reached $44 million when Thomas updated the committee in mid-June. Thomas said Tuesday that MU Health Care wrapped up FY 2023 with a $51.1 million margin.

MU Health Care cybersecurity defense

Matt Frederiksen-England, chief compliance officer for MU Health Care, and Michelle Piranio, chief audit and compliance officer for the University of Missouri System, addressed concerns from the committee about MU Health Care’s cybersecurity during the compliance and audit update.

Frederiksen-England and Piranio said MU Health Care provides annual training for its employees about how to practice good cybersecurity against phishing expeditions — a term used to describe an “email or malicious website” that poses as a credible organization in an attempt to steal personal information, according to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Frederiksen-England said MU Health Care does not currently simulate phishing attacks during training. The committee encouraged him to implement these exercises.

The compliance officers said the software MU Health Care uses can filter out most phishing attempts, meaning these emails “rarely” get to an employee’s inbox.

MU School of Medicine updates

Richard Barohn, executive vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the MU School of Medicine, said in a presentation that the school of medicine was ending the fiscal year with more than $93 million in research expenditures, an increase of nearly $20 million from FY 2022.

More than $40 million came from the National Institutes of Health, a medical research agency connected to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Mun Choi, UM System president and MU chancellor, said that while NIH funding increased by more than $6 million from the last fiscal year to this year, he “expect(s) to see $100 million in NIH funding in the next five years.”

The MU School of Medicine welcomed 128 students to its class of 2027 last week. Eighty-four percent of them are from Missouri.

Anna Colletto is a junior at the University of Missouri reporting on Health and Higher Education in Fall 2023.
The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.
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