Proposed hospital tax a point of contention in Ga.

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Ohio's stressful launch of a hospital tax to try to balance the state budget may not be the trend to come. Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's plan to create a hospital "bed" tax to alleviate shortfalls in the budget is meeting resistance from lawmakers who fear the economic implications for healthcare jobs, and the financial stability of hospitals. 

With a $608 million Medicaid shortfall, mostly due to a reduction in money coming from federal stimulus, Perdue proposed a 1.6 percent tax on patient revenues, a 1.6 percent tax on premium revenues from managed care insurers, and a 1.9 percent cut in the rate used to pay physicians through Medicaid.

"I don't see any real support for a hospital tax," said state House Speaker David Ralston. He, instead, would rather see spending cuts used to close the Medicaid gap.

Furthermore, Georgia Hospital Association spokesman Kevin Bloye said that under Perdue's proposed legislation, the hospital industry would lose $48 million annually, which could mean job losses and service cuts.

Still, the plan is not nearly as controversial as a "hospital tax" already in effect in Ohio. The fee, assessed at 1.52 percent of a hospital's operating budget for 2010, doesn't affect the payment monies received, like the proposal in Georgia would. The Ohio tax is expected to bring in $718 million this year, but at the sacrifice of training and capital improvements at some hospitals as they scramble with less revenue.

To learn more about the Georgia proposal:
-  read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article

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