Bill will help prop Medicaid funding, rural hospitals

Published 10:03 pm Friday, April 17, 2009

A plan supported by the Alabama Hopsital Association promises to prop up Medicaid funding and prevent devastating cutbacks in payments caring for the poor.

A bill sponsored by State Sen. Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) and State Rep. John Knight (D-Montgomery) could stabilize Medicaid funding for the next two years. Bedford and Knight chair the legislature committees that draft the operating budget that funds Medicaid.

The bills would give private hospitals a way to bolster the state’s share of Medicaid funding, increasing the funding from the federal government. The federal government pays 70 percent of the $4.5-billion health program for the poor.

The bills would create a mandatory assessment on private hospitals to pay the state a fee equal to 5.38 percent of their net patient revenues.

“The ultimate goal is to bring more money to the state and get rates closer to the cost of delivering care,” said Rosemary Blackmon, the executive vice president of the Alabama Hospital Association.

“Without this bill, there would be a $3-million decrease in our net revenue,” said Mike Marshall, the CEO of Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital. “That’s 5 percent of our gross revenue. That would be a huge hit for us, and would result in unfortunate decisions that I would have to make.”

Marshall added that this bill would help — even save — a number of rural hospitals throughout the state of Alabama.

We support the passage of this bill and encourage citizens to contact their state legislator and ask him to support Senate Bill 289 and House Bill 381. It will be good for our hospital and our community.