Bill To Impose Hospital Fees Remains Caught in Political Entanglements
California lawmakers might hold a special session this fall to address concerns related to a bill (AB 1383) that would levy fees on hospitals in order to draw down additional federal funds for health care programs, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Under the federal economic stimulus package, states that offer sufficient matching funds can qualify for increased federal funding.
AB 1383, by Assembly member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento), would impose new hospital fees to secure higher reimbursement rates for hospitals that serve beneficiaries of Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
Public hospitals would be exempt from the fees but could qualify for the higher Medi-Cal payments.
If the hospital fees generate at least $2 billion, California could qualify for an additional $1 billion in federal funds this year and $3.2 billion over a longer time period.
AB 1383 is before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). The governor has not taken a stand on the final version of the bill, according to aides.
The measure underwent significant revision before the close of the legislative session last week after Republican senators refused to vote for several bills in a protest over unrelated demands.
To secure the bill's passage, Jones re-wrote the measure to exempt it from the two-thirds majority approval typically required for tax measures.As a result of the changes, the bill cannot take effect until Jan. 1, 2010. The measure also might face legal challenges from those who believe Jones inappropriately skirted the two-thirds requirement (Gardner, San Diego-Union Tribune, 9/15). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.