Arizona hospital group supports $300M bed tax

To avoid humongous cuts to Medicaid proposed by Gov. Jan Brewer, Arizona hospitals say they are open to a tax on hospital revenue or a $300 million bed tax, the Phoenix Business Journal reports.

While the governor and lawmakers have said the state can't afford to keep existing funding levels, hospitals are worried that deep Medicaid cuts will translate into a deluge of uninsured patients in their ERs. Rather than lose Medicaid payments that would be eliminated by state budget cut of $540 million, the Arizona Hospitals and Healthcare Association is supporting a one-year tax on hospitals based on the number of days patients spend in hospitals, according to the Arizona Republic.

The proposal would partially address the state's $1.1 billion budget gap, and preserve health insurance through Arizona's Medicaid program for childless adults. Under a budget plan currently being considered, those people would be among the 280,000 Arizonans dropped from state Medicaid rolls.

If the Medicaid cuts are made, hospitals could lose more than $500 million in payments, the hospital association estimates.
Lawmakers said the hospital proposal to generate $300 million in one year--with one-third going back to hospitals to ensure provider rates don't rise--isn't enough to sustain the state's Medicaid program's existing levels. About $540 million is needed to maintain the program.

To learn more:
- read the Arizona Republic article
- here's the Phoenix Business Journal article