State health officials on Wednesday unveiled the latest version of an assessment on Wisconsin hospitals.
The proposal would impose a 1.4-percent tax on patient revenues from 72 hospitals. Department of Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake says that would result in the state being able to capture about $300 million in additional federal funding each year.
Wisconsin Hospital Association president Steve Brenton applauded the move, saying it would pass on higher Medicaid reimbursement payments to facilities across the state. In addition, he says it would help the state to develop new programs to provide healthcare coverage for many of Wisconsin's uninsured residents.
Brenton says the proposal could actually lower costs for private patients, who often have to cover shortfalls in federal funding. He says additional federal funding could help to cover the losses seen in public programs when federal funding comes up short.
Under the plan, hospitals with a large number of Medicaid patients would benefit most. About a dozen hospitals would actually pay out more in taxes than they would recoup from the federal government. However, Brenton argues that everyone will benefit from new state programs the extra funding will help provide.
Health officials want the proposal introduced in the Legislature right away. With Democratic control of both chambers and the Governor's support, the measure is expected to pass quickly. Assembly Republicans blocked a similar proposal last session, when they were in the majority.