Senator: Eliminate hospital bed taxes

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker is calling for an end to what he calls a "bed tax gimmick" that many states use to draw down additional funds for their Medicaid program, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Forty-seven states use a hospital bed tax or a similar financing plan to obtain additional Medicaid funds, according to the article. Corker, a Republican and a self-styled fiscal conservative, said through a spokesperson that "the bed tax scheme adds to the federal government's fiscal problems and is something both parties agree is poor public policy."

As an example of his financial position, Corker plans to offer a plan for the fiscal cliff that would raise the debt ceiling in exchange for a dollar-for-dollar reduction in Medicare and Social Security, according to the Times Free Press.

In Corker's home state, taxes on hospital beds and nursing homes draw down an additional $837.8 million for TennCare, the state's Medicaid program.

Meanwhile, a hospital bed tax in Georgia that was created in 2010 and is set to expire next June is coming under fire from some lawmakers, according to the Times-Georgian.

"This is not a perfect system, by any means," said Georgia Hospital Association Vice President of Public Relations Kevin Bloye, "but it's far better than the alternatives, which are huge Medicaid rate cuts and the potential loss of sales tax exemption for not-for-profit hospitals."

The battle over the bed tax levied to all healthcare systems in Georgia raises the question of whether hospitals that don't treat a large portion of Medicaid patients should help pay the costs of hospitals that do, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

For more:
- here's the Times Free Press article
- read the Times-Georgian article