Iowa public hospital able to cut property taxes thanks to Affordable Care Act

A hospital in Iowa has been able to rebate property taxes to residents in its service area thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Broadlawns Medical Center, a public hospital in Polk County, is cutting its property tax levy on local residents by 15 percent. That's a $9 million savings to taxpayers, which should the average property tax bill drop by about $39 per year, according to the Des Moines Register.

Broadlawns had been on a financial precipice a decade ago, but new management and the expansion of Medicaid as a result of the ACA has helped to spark a turnaround.

Although Iowa is dominated by conservative lawmakers, Gov. Terry Branstad lobbied and received approval from the federal government for a waiver on expansion of Medicaid eligibility. It allowed the state to purchase Medicaid coverage from private insurers, most notably through the state's insurance exchange for enrollees who earn more than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

That decision has allowed Broadlawns to end its most recent fiscal year with a $45 million surplus, according to the Register. And even though the Medicaid expansion allowed enrollees to go to private hospitals, officials with Broadlawns told the Register it has not seen a dropoff in patient volume as a result. Branstad pushed to mostly privatize the state's Medicaid program in the past year, but has had few takers among the state's private hospitals, who have mostly declined to sign provider contracts.

However, Broadlawns officials told the Register that the move over to Medicaid managed care could eventually cut its level of reimbursements and bring its bottom line a little further back to earth.

To learn more:
- read the Des Moines Register article