Bed tax brings winners and losers

Depending on who you talk to, the hospital bed tax is either a godsend or a nightmare. Amid debates on what to even call measures that require hospitals pay fees in return for matching funds, Georgia yesterday passed a new law that helps avoid a $700 million loss in Medicaid funding, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a measure (S.B. 24) that averts 20 percent Medicaid cuts to hospitals and secures funding for four years.

Hospitals pay 1.45 percent of their net patient revenue to the state, and the state offers $450 million in federal matching funds, redistributing the dollars based on the services the hospitals provide. However, hospitals that have more Medicaid caseloads will benefit more than providers with less.

For example, Grady Memorial Hospital and Children's Health Egleston will be the winners, while Piedmont Hospital and Emory University Hospital will be the losers, the newspaper reported.
Other states considering similar measures have heard complaints from hospitals that worry the redistribution of Medicaid funds is unfair. Utah and Arizona have discussed bed taxes too.

Similar legislation might be a hard sell, though.

"There is no hospital bed tax," Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle told columnist Tom Crawford of the Columbia County News-Times. The lieutenant governor echoed other congressional members who chastised the media for referring to the Georgia measure as a tax. Other terms used include "provider fee" or "financing plan."

For more information:
- here's the Atlanta Journal-Constitution article
- read the Columbia County News-Times article

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