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For-profit hospitals ask Rick Scott to increase taxes on them

The for-profit hospital chain Hospital Corporation of America is asking Gov. Rick Scott to raise taxes on hospitals.

Presidents from the four HCA hospital regions in Florida sent a letter to Scott regarding the Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding saying that the Low Income Pool is not a long-term solution and that Scott should consider increasing a tax hospitals currently pay and putting the new revenue into an increase in hospital base rates.

Current base rates are insufficient to fairly compensate hospitals, the letter notes, and increasing the Public Medical Assistance Trust Fund would provide broad based financing for the state match.

PMATF is a tax on hospitals’ annual net operating revenue. There is a 1.5 percent assessment on hospital inpatient care and a 1 percent assessment on hospital outpatient care.

HCA says increasing the tax rates by .5 percent would bring in an additional  $200 million, which when matched with federal funding would total $500 million, far less than the current LIP program. In order to reach the current level of LIP funding each tax on inpatient and outpatient revenue would need to be increased by 1.5 percent, each.

“This approach ensures that each hospital’s payments are directly related to the hospital’s provision of care to Medicaid patients,” the letter reads.

HCA also warns that some hospitals that have disproportionately benefited from the supplemental Medicaid Low Income Pool program may suggest  reimbursement rates should take into consideration other services such as pediatric care or graduate medical education. “We urge you to avoid dilution of  a consistent Medicaid payment rate  that ensures equal payment for equal services throughout the state.”

The letter was signed by Michael Joseph, president, east Florida region; Michael Joyce, president of the North Florida region; Peter Mamersteim, president of the West Florida division; and Hugh Tappan, president of the southeast Florida division.

The letter lists the accomplishments of the 46 HCA affiliated hospitals in Florida. Combined, the hospitals accounted for more than 22 percent of all Medicaid and uncompensated emergency department visits, and with 18,000 births ranked first in the number of Medicaid and uncompensated care deliveries.

The facilities maintain that they received just under 4 percent of LIP payment in 2014-15, net intergovernmental transfers, and that other hospitals in the state receive more Medicaid supplemental payments even though they don’t provide as much care.

The HCA letter is in contrast to the letter sent by the Florida Hospital Association on Monday. That letter advises the governor and his commission against increasing the Public Medical Assistance Trust Fund on hospitals.

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