Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act was supposed to change the way hospitals providing charity care are funded. The reasoning was that because most of the uninsured would be on the expanded Medicaid program envisioned by Obamacare, the Federal government would eliminate so-called DSH payments that currently go to hospitals like Atlanta’s Grady and Savannah’s Memorial Health. Of course, hospitals in states like Georgia that refused to expand Medicaid following the Supreme Court ruling faced significant loss of funding. I posted about this last month.
According to this opinion piece by Tim Carney in the Washington Examiner, the funding problem has been solved, at least for the next two years, due to a provision in the bipartisan budget deal worked out by Paul Ryan and Patty Murray. Funding for DSH payments has been restored through the end of fiscal year 2015.
There are several ways of looking at this development. Carney, who is a strong opponent of crony capitalism, looks at it as being a giveaway to K street lobbyists. Hospitals like Grady can breathe a sign of relief. Fulton County Commissioners, debating a $25 million cut in their share of Grady funding, have another factor to consider. And Governor Deal, who gets constant grief for not expanding Medicaid, has one less thing to worry about in his quest for re-election.