Wisconsin hospitals need prompt action from lawmakers in Madison. The Wisconsin Hospital Association's Eric Borgerding says time is of the essence, in getting the hospital assessment (PDF) in place. "We've got to get this done right away," says Borgerding, adding that the assessment will bring Wisconsin's fair share of federal health care dollars back to the state and use them to better fund necessary health services for hundreds of thousands of patients and families, at a time when hospitals are financially stressed.
"Hospitals are typically viewed as recession proof," says Borgerding. "Hospitals are a gauge, a bellwether, of just how deep a recession is. Hospitals are doing what they can. Volumes are down, revenues are way down, margins are down."
Borgerding says it's been more than a decade since hospitals received an increase in what they are paid to care for Medicaid patients. They're paid less than half of what it costs to serve Medicaid patients, leading to a $600 million dollar annual shortfall between costs to treat patients and what the program pays out. The assessment, announced by Governor Jim Doyle and legislative leaders , is included in a budget repair bill expected to be voted on next week.