Hospital bed tax moves forward

The Georgia legislature is moving closer to approving a hospital bed tax that would leverage additional federal Medicaid payments for the next four years, reported the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

The tax legislation was introduced by Gov. Nathan Deal, and passed the state Senate by a 46-9 margin. It is expected to be taken up by the Georgia House next week, according to the article.

If signed into law, the 1.45 percent bed tax would leverage about $689 million in additional state and federal funds that could be used to cover about 100,000 additional Georgians who would enroll in the Medicaid program under the proposed Affordable Care Act expansion scheduled to begin next year.

The bed tax was originally enacted in 2010, but is set to expire this June. It has created some controversy among the state's hospitals, some of which have complained it provides an unfair advantage to those that treat larger numbers of Medicaid patients over those with a smaller Medicaid load.

The bed tax also was recently called an "investment scam" by Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Kyle Wingfield, although California and other states use a similar financing plan to leverage Medicaid revenue.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker recently made similar complaints, calling for an end to what he referred to as a "bed tax gimmick" that many states use to draw down additional funds for their Medicaid programs.

Gov. Deal warned that without the renewal of the bed tax, overall Medicaid payments to hospitals would have to be slashed at least 20 percent, according to the Business Chronicle.

To learn more:
- read the Atlanta Business Chronicle article
- here's Kyle Wingfield's column

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