The Union Recorder

Letters

October 31, 2012

ORMC attempts to put ‘Bed Tax’ rumors to rest

MILLEDGEVILLE — Recently, information has been circulated in the community claiming that Rep. Rusty Kidd voted to tax people when they are sick or injured and need to visit the hospital. This is a complete mischaracterization of the vote made by Rep. Kidd, and other legislators, and deserves additional explanation.

In 2010, Gov. Perdue presented an alternative to the Hospital Community at large — either the state would implement a “Bed Tax” on each hospital that would raise money to be used for a federal Medicaid program funding match to help fund the state’s struggling Medicaid budget or hospitals could accept a significant reduction in payment rates for the care of Medicaid recipients treated in hospitals. Programs similar to the one proposed in Georgia are used in other states to maximize the federal contributions available for essential Medicaid programs. Our local legislative contingent, Rep. Kidd and Sen. Grant, were very involved with Oconee Regional officials and leadership from other hospitals in their districts to understand the impacts of both alternatives on the operations of the hospitals. They were accessible for discussions and supported the tax with the knowledge and consent of our local hospital and the industry at large through the Georgia Hospital Association (GHA). This tax is not passed on locally to consumers of health care services through bills or other means, but is incorporated into the operating cash budget of ORMC each year.

This was an instance of neither alternative being favorable, and the implementation of the bed tax system was the lesser of the negative impacts on Oconee Regional Medical Center. The state was able to increase the payment rates a small amount to all hospitals providing Medicaid services through this system, and ORMC has recouped the majority of (but not all of) our contributions made through this tax for the last two and a half years. GHA is working with the Governor’s office and hospitals to improve these results and the program overall, as it comes up for review during the upcoming 2013 legislative session.

Difficult decisions and choices are facing every community and state in this country as alternatives for funding important health care services and the resulting impacts of those decisions are evaluated. Those that represent Milledgeville and Baldwin County have been very involved in these discussions during past legislative sessions and must continue to be involved in the decision making and evaluation during this next review cycle. The hospital appreciates the support of Rep. Kidd, Sen. Grant and others that have been involved in researching and understanding the alternatives available in this state and their important impact on the citizens they represent.

Jean Aycock

President/CEO

Oconee Regional Health Systems

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