Calif. Hospitals Mixed on Fee Aimed at Bringing in More Medi-Cal Payments
Hospitals and health officials are expecting mixed benefits fromÂ the implementation of a new hospital fee designed to draw down increased federal matching funds for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
Last fall, California lawmakers passed two billsÂ (AB 1383 and AB 188) that would levy a fee on hospitals based on the volume of Medi-Cal patients they treat.
The fee is expected to generate $2 billion each year, which would help bring in $2.3 billion in federal matching funds for Medi-Cal. The federal economic stimulus package will provide matching Medicaid funds at a higher rate through the end of 2010.
The state plans to use the new funds to increase Medi-Cal payments to hospitals and support children's health insurance programs.
Although the California Hospital Association helped negotiate the deal, not all hospitals are on board. Currently, it remains unclear how much each hospital would pay and how much it would receive in return.
CHA estimates that 83 of the state's 430 hospitals would pay theÂ fee but lose money because of low Medi-Cal volume. However, it also notes that the majority of those facilities belong to health systems that also would benefit from the fee.
Early estimates indicate that 17 independent hospitals would pay theÂ fee but lose money, according to CHA officials.
State and federal officials currently are negotiating the details of the fee, which requires federal approval.Once the deal is approved, California would start collecting fees within 30 days and payments would begin 15 days after that (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 3/12). 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.