Ga. Medicaid Chief Warns of Provider Cuts if ‘Bed Tax’ Isn’t Renewed

During a budget hearing at the state Capitol, the chief of Georgia’s Medicaid program emphasized the importance of renewing the so-called hospital bed tax.

Department of Community Health Commissioner David Cook said without the expiring bed tax, the state would need to find more than a half a billion dollars to shore up Medicaid.

“Our opportunities to address a $550 million shortfall if that were not passed would be pretty much limited to addressing it through provider payment rates, which I think could be significant.”

Policy analysts say as significant as a 20 percent payment cut to doctors and hospitals. And they say the cuts would put 10-15 hospitals across the state in danger of shutting down.

Lawmakers are currently considering a proposal sponsored by Governor Nathan Deal that would shift the power to levy the tax from the legislature to the Board of Community Health, which the governor appoints.

Governor Deal, who refers to the tax as a fee, said his plan would be more efficient because the board already administers a similar fee on nursing homes.

Critics, however, say it allows state lawmakers to get out of an explicit vote on a controversial tax increase. 

The governor’s proposal has already cleared the Senate. It’s expected to come before the House next week.