The Wisconsin Hospital Associations board unanimously rejected Gov. Jim Doyles proposed 1% tax on hospital gross revenue to boost reimbursement for patients enrolled in state-subsidized health plans, such as Medicaid and BadgerCare. The tax, expected to raise $418 million over two years for a healthcare trust fund, would be effective July 1; would primarily benefit hospitals with the higher percentages of low-income patients; and would secure additional federal matching funds, Doyles budget documents said.
George Quinn, a WHA senior vice president, dubbed the tax an unfortunate precedent and bad public policy, and said its defeat is the associations top legislative priority. Quinn said Doyles plan unnecessarily taxes hospitals and called the governors proposed $1.25-per-pack cigarette tax a viable alternative source of funding.
The WHA board also endorsed revised guidelines for hospitals billing and collection practices, which were first issued in 2004. Quinn said the changes clarify five existing guidelines. Among the updated recommendations: hospitals should consider standard upfront discounts for all uninsured; develop discount policies for those with incomes between 100% and 300% of federal poverty criteria; consider aid for those with catastrophic bills, regardless of income; review collection-agency practices; and make billing and collection information readily available to the public. -- by Melanie Evans