This week’s Hot Grand Rounds included a post from InsureBlog about how GA has been generating revenue for its Medicaid program via a hospital revenue tax. The burden of that tax – along with many other factors, including the economy over the past few years – has led one hospital to cut roughly 5% of its workforce in an effort to cut costs.
The hospital tax discussed in the article very much reminded me of the one implemented here in Colorado by the 2009 Health Care Affordability Act. The concept sounds much the same: to even things up a bit among hospitals that treat few uninsured patients and those that bear the burden of treating lots of uninsured patients. And in both states, the money raised is used to fund Medicaid coverage for low income residents. But that’s where the similarity appears to end. While the Colorado Health Care Affordability Act was supported by the Colorado Hospital Association and the Colorado Medical Society, the Georgia Hospital Association was initially quite opposed to the hospital fee in their state, claiming that it would hurt more hospitals than it would help. In Colorado, the opposite was true, with more hospitals coming out ahead under the new fee system. And when a bill was introduced in this year’s legislative session to try to repeal the 2009 Health Care Affordability Act, it was opposed by the Colorado Hospital Association and postponed indefinitely by the House Committee on Health and Environment.
This is a good example of how similar legislation does not necessarily have the same support or outcomes in different states. That’s not to say that the Health Care Affordability Act is universally supported in Colorado – it’s not. But it’s working relatively well as a vehicle to fund Medicaid here and to support Colorado hospitals that treat a large number of uninsured patients.