Help On the Way for Georgia’s Charity Hospitals?

January 16, 2014 10:00 am

by Jon Richards · 13 comments

We have written before about how provisions of the Affordable Care Act affect the way hospitals that provide care for indigent patients are financed. In a nutshell, federal dollars previously distributed to hospitals like Grady in Atlanta or St. Mary’s in Athens, which serve a large number of uninsured patients, are being phased out. The ACA’s authors assumed this money would no longer be required because so many more people would be covered under the expanded Medicaid program in the Act.

After the Supreme Court decided that expanded Medicaid would be optional rather than mandatory, Georgia decided not to participate. And, judging by yesterday’s State of the State address, Governor Deal has no intention of expanding Medicaid, despite the protests of Moral Monday.

According to Walter Jones of the Morris News Service, Governor Deal is considering providing state funding to charity hospitals.

Chris Riley, the governor’s chief of staff, told reporters that Deal is weighing options ranging from a one-time cash injection to an ongoing commitment for hospitals that serve large numbers of uninsured patients.

“It’s a constant discussion with hospitals in Georgia,” he said. “It’s important to the governor.”

And why would this be so important?

Someone once told me the three primary functions of state government are to educate, medicate, and rehabilitate. Providing additional funding for K-12 education and staking out a bigger role for technical education covers the first. Getting the final leg of his criminal justice reform initiative passed covers the third. And, making sure that charity hospitals–especially in rural Georgia–don’t close due to lack of funding could complete the hat trick that lets Deal remain in the governor’s mansion for another four years.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas Adams (@GeorgiaCRE) January 16, 2014 at 10:33 am

Help On the Way for Georgia’s Charity Hospitals? – We have written before about how provisions of the Affordable C… http://t.co/OduBqiE9U3

DeKalb Wonkette January 16, 2014 at 10:54 am

I think issue is moot for now. Congressional budget deal delays the DSH cuts until 2016.

http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/gov-budget-deal-spares-hospitals.html

saltycracker January 16, 2014 at 11:27 am

Neither the Feds or the state have a solution, so why should the taxpayer put up temporary bail money ? So the perps can skip ?

CJBear71 January 16, 2014 at 1:07 pm

I know this is politics and not subject to logic, but why would you commit to an ongoing additional funding for hospitals (i.e. ER care) but not expand Medicaid (can shift people out of the ER into primary care facilities)? Why wouldn’t you accept the additional federal dollars that will cover 90% of the Medicaid expansion?

Grady’s shortfall is going to be $45 million per year when DSH payments are cut in half by 2018. Over 10 years that’s going to be about 1/5th of the total needed by the State to expand Medicaid. And we haven’t even factored in the rest of the hospitals across the state.

Why should Georgia committ to paying for that shortfall alone? Why not pull in the federal dollars designed to help. If Congress short changes us in future years, we can always pull back and reassess.

saltycracker January 16, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Like the premiums on the healthy or like in school supports to cover mandates ?

Chris Huttman January 16, 2014 at 3:25 pm

No I think the idea is – we’ve been told we can’t expand Medicaid because we “can’t afford it”. But yet here we are saying we’ll just continue to throw money away at charity care (no offense to anyone doing this care) instead of getting these people into some sort of managed health situation.

Medicaid expansion is like a new bus service for people who can’t get around. We’re saying we can’t afford it, instead we’ll just give like 1/10th of the people cars that cost twice as much.

saltycracker January 16, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Maybe he should not have floated a one time donation or maybe he could have promoted a matching fund program, but getting into this black hole permanently isn’t a good idea.
There is a case for private or semi-private eharity hospitals and orphanages at the state level.

Chris Huttman January 16, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Actually, there really isn’t a case. Whatever your profession is, do you like other people telling you when you should give it out for free at a giant loss?

saltycracker January 17, 2014 at 11:33 am

Then I’d be a Democrat.
Disclosure: I support Children’s hospital of atlanta and a long list of charity hospitals.

Scott65 January 17, 2014 at 4:39 pm

That would be 100% for 3 years…90% there after. The 4 billion figure Deal throws out there is a lie that has been fact checked as wrong many many times

Dave Bearse January 16, 2014 at 8:51 pm

An impending failure of a rural hospital won’t play well in an election year. It’ll take a couple of years before some hospitals are really squeezed. A one-time cash injection would kick the can into the latter part of a Deal second term where it will await the 2018 Governor.

A Sonny Perdue legacy was increasing transportation funding by borrowing future transportation dollars to “fast forward” construction of economic development highways. Will hospital closings be a Deal legacy?

Scott65 January 17, 2014 at 4:46 pm

…developed only if they increased his own (Perdue’s) property values. He should be in jail for that round of personal enrichment.

Scott65 January 17, 2014 at 4:45 pm

You guys are missing the forest for the trees. Its so simple.
Take the FREE money (as far as state budgets go) from the feds for 3 years and have 90% there after…
or, say no we dont want your stinkin money…so we are gonna pay for it ourselves…that’ll show ‘em!
(nose spites face).
People in this state cant be that stupid…but when “no-Deal” has to pull that money from somewhere else…maybe some people will see the smoke and mirrors for what they are