by Jim Nintzel
Arizona hospitals are making a last-ditch effort to save government-subsidized care for about two thirds of the 250,000 childless adults Gov. Jan Brewer proposes to kick out of the state’s Medicaid program.
A plan unveiled Friday would raise $645 million a year, $540 million of that through a new tax on hospitals based on patient days. That computes out to about 4.2 percent of total bill charges.
There also would be an additional $100 million tax on the health care plans that have contracts with the state to provide care for those enrolled in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System. And nursing homes would kick in $5 million.
But Laurie Liles, president of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association, said the tax is structured in a way so that it won’t actually result in higher bills.
“That is because it is used to draw down federal funds that are paid back to the hospitals,’’ Liles said.
But it faces tough opposition from GOP lawmakers:
A bigger hurdle is at the Legislature, where many Republicans seek to scale back government-funded health care, no matter who picks up the tab. There even is legislation to abolish AHCCCS entirely.
The Republican opposition comes despite warnings that the GOP plan could cost 30,000 jobs in Arizona:
Hospitals are alarmed because many of their patients are AHCCCS recipients. Eliminating AHCCCS coverage for that many could have a double-whammy effect, not only cutting off the flow of reimbursement dollars but also resulting in some newly uninsured seeking care in hospital emergency rooms — care for which they cannot afford to pay.
The association claims the net result would be the immediate loss of more than 13,000 health care jobs and another 17,000 through the rest of the state’s economy.