Hospitals demand $186M in Medicaid backpay

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The Maine Hospital Association is demanding Medicaid pay $484 million in reimbursements that are three years overdue, the 39-hospital group said.

Maine has one of the highest percentages of residents in the Medicaid program, The Wall Street Journal noted. Out of the $484 million that MHA says it is owned, $300 million of it would be reimbursed by the government.

In the first advertising campaign of its kind, the trade group has taken to newspaper and radio ads, the WSJ noted. The hospitals said the overdue reimbursement has hurt their credit ratings and forced them to delay raises and building projects, as a result.

In response, Gov. Paul LePage yesterday approved a plan to pay off $186 million of the Medicaid debt to the hospitals by issuing a voter-approved revenue bond secured by future liquor sales, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Steven Michaud, president of the Maine Hospital Association, supported the governor's promise and said paying hospitals will create jobs, promote medical infrastructure and access to care.

Other hospitals outside of Maine are still worried about delays in reimbursements, attributed to deficit agreements on Capitol Hill. According to Bruce Siegel, head of the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems, other hospitals struggle with payments delays of up to several months, he told the WSJ.

Coupled with reimbursement changes in the Tax Relief Law and sequestration, hospitals are "extremely concerned," according to Danny Chun, spokesman for the Illinois Hospital Association, who said some hospitals have been waiting up to eight months for Medicaid payments.

"It's not just the sequestration. It's the debt ceiling and the budget. Will members of Congress be seeking more spending cuts?"

For more information:
- here's the WSJ article
- see the Portland Press Herald article

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