It seems the central issue in the ongoing debate about whether to fund a $90 million deficit in the Division of Medicaid with a tax per day on hospital patients is whether the levy will drive up the cost of health care.
Gov. Haley Barbour, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and its legislative sponsors, such as Senate Public Health Committee Chairman Hob Bryan, D-Amory, and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, say it will not.
Their basic argument is that because of the $3 the federal government puts up for each $1 the state spends on Medicaid, the hospitals will be more than fully reimbursed. That will prevent them from having to pass the tax – $167.25 per day, per patient – on to the general public.
And since this particular slice of federal Medicaid money is dedicated to reimbursing hospitals for treating Medicaid recipients and the indigent, the hospitals should be paying the state’s share to match federal dollars.