Hospitals in Mississippi are not enthusiastic about Gov. Haley Barbours plan to fund shortfalls in the Medicaid program, saying the governor has broken faith with them.
The plan calls for a $370 million reduction in inpatient hospital reimbursement rates while paying hospitals through another pool of Medicaid money, the upper-payment-limit provision. In addition, the state will increase the hospital tax known as the gross revenue assessment from its current 0.45% to 1.08%. The state has to find $90 million to make up its share in Medicaid dollars; increasing the tax will pay for about $88 million of that, with another $2 million generated by cutting some services, according to a news release.
Mississippi expects to implement the plan Sept. 1, pending final approval from the CMS and a mandatory 25-day period in which providers can request a hearing to review the plan, according to a governor spokesman. Barbour and the state Legislature had reached a stalemate on how to cover the Medicaid deficit, but the new plan requires no legislative action, the spokesman said.
But questions remain, according to Sam Cameron, president and chief executive officer of the Mississippi Hospital Association. The governor appears to be trying to shift the burden of funding Medicaid onto hospitals, and it is unclear how individual hospitals will be affected by the upper-payment-limit provision, he said. The hospital association was not involved in any of the discussions for the new plan, he added. At this point we have no faith in anything the governors office says. -- by Jean DerGurahian
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