Many hospitals like the governor's $527-million repair bill.
The Wisconsin Hospital Association says the proposed hospital assessment is a win-win proposition for lawmakers, service providers and patients. Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch is opposed to any new taxes, but Eric Borgerding, Executive Vice President of the Association, says it's a complicated issue. The bottom line is: Will it work?
"I would not blame anyone for asking questions and being diligent about making sure this will work. That's the position we've been in for quite some time until we changed out position last October. We changed our position because we've been able to negotiate what we think are some pretty solid assurances that the dollars will be used for their intended purpose."
That controversial hospital tax would bring the state $450-million in federal Medicaid reimbursement funds each biennium. It would generate $125-million to help plug the budget hole by reducing the amount of GPR needed for Medicaid, and hospitals would be reimbursed. Borgerding says it's a much different proposal than the one the governor previously introduced.
"It's different in the sense that number one, we think it is workable; number two, we think it contains very necessary protections to make sure that it accomplishes its intended purpose; number three, it has a sunset provision so that if it's not working it will go away."
Borgerding says opponents have good reason to be skeptical watchdogs for the taxpayers, considering the last state budget took $200-million from the Patients Compensation Fund, and now the state is being sued for that. Borgerding says his challenge is to convince others that this hospital assessment is the right thing to do. Similar proposals have been adopted in 23 other states.