Dems question hospital tax proposal

Hospital officials joined Barbour at a news conference explaining the plan. Although they agreed to it, they reiterated their support of a cigarette tax hike that he has rejected. Barbour urged lawmakers to approve a complicated formula to plug the $90 million hole Medicaid faces annually.

Barbour said the proposal, hammered out over the past six weeks, is “the best bill there can be for this.” It consolidates three old taxes that hospitals have paid in previous years into one tax.

But some lawmakers want to know how the plan affects hospitals in their districts, while others remain skeptical the tax wouldn’t be passed on to patients.

“I hope he don’t think we’re gonna go for this quick just because he wants us to,” said House Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Steve Holland, D-Plantersville.

“There’s a hell of a lot of questions to be answered,” Holland said. He said “extensive hearings” would be required, but hospital officials said delays would force Barbour to cut services.

Clarion Ledger
5/28/8