The Georgia Senate defied predictions and passed a bill that will require hospitals to pay a 1.45% tax on revenue—a measure aimed at closing the cash-strapped state's budget deficit and increasing Medicaid funds for the poor.
Lawmakers heavily debated the bill, according to reports, and passed it 31-15. The Georgia House approved the tax bill 141-23 on March 26.
The move, which was first proposed by Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2009, would use the expected funds to reimburse providers that treat large numbers of indigent patients. The bill will also draw additional federal Medicaid matching dollars.
Provider organizations including the Georgia Hospital Association had vehemently opposed the bill, but relented and voiced their support when the scope of proposed Medicaid reimbursement cuts became clear.
According to GHA spokesman Kevin Bloye, the tax will bring in $229 million from hospitals and $6 million from ambulatory surgery centers, which will mean $59 million for increased Medicaid reimbursements and $176 million to decrease the Medicaid budget deficit.