Most Facilities Submit First Round of Newly Imposed Hospital Fee
The majority of California's 430 acute care hospitals paid the first round of a newly imposed hospital fee to the Department of Health Care Services earlier this month, Payers & Providers reports (Payers & Providers, 10/28).
Last month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signed AB 1653, by Assembly member Dave Jones (D-Sacramento), which created the framework for the hospital fee. The state intends to use the collected funds to increase Medi-Cal funding for hospitals. Medi-Cal isÂ California's Medicaid program (California Healthline, 10/11).
The fee applies retroactively from spring 2009. The hospital payments will be used to draw down as much as $3.2 billion in additional federal matching funds for Medi-Cal.
Anthony Cava, DHCS spokesperson, said about 20 hospitals failed to make all or part of the initial fee payment, which was due on Oct. 8.
As a result, DHCS collected a total of $722 million in fees out of an expected $770 million.
On Oct. 25, the department sent hospitals the first round of supplemental Medi-Cal payments, which totaled $885.5 million. Cava said the payments were slightly less than initial estimates because of the shortfall in collected fees.
Addressing the Issue
Cava declined to name the hospitals that were not able to pay the fee, but he said DHCS will address the issue in a variety of ways. He said the department is imposing annual interest payments of 10% on delinquent fees.
For hospitals on stable financial footing, the department could withhold the fees out of the facility's Medi-Cal payments.
For hospitals facing financial problems, DHCS could work with the facility on an individual basis, Cava said. He added that in some cases, the department might withhold only the supplemental Medi-Cal payments from a facility unable to pay the fee (Payers & Providers, 10/28).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.