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Compensated: NH hospitals want it both ways

EDITORIAL
April 17. 2018 6:43PM




One of the primary arguments for expanding Medicaid in New Hampshire was that it would reduce the cost of uncompensated care.

New Hampshire non-profit hospitals are exempt from New Hampshire business taxes under the theory that they are providing charity care to those who cannot afford to pay.

Yet hospitals want the state to send them $36 million in uncompensated care payments for Medicare patients.

Hospitals have been willing players in the state’s MediScam games over the years, but this dispute is different.

In deciding how hospitals should be paid under the state’s uncompensated care program, lawmakers did not include Medicare patients. The hospitals are paid, though at below-market rates.

Hospitals argued, against the plain text of the relevant statute and a recent change in federal rules, that they should be paid again. A federal judge agreed, so New Hampshire has to send them an additional $36 million by the end of May.

Hospitals are getting two bites of the apple, three if you include their tax-exemption. They are being paid through Medicare, and again through the state’s uncompensated care program, for the same patients.

We could exempt hospitals from state taxes because they provide charity care.

We could reimburse hospitals for their uncompensated care expenses.

We could cover these patients through Medicare.

Pick one.


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