Last year, a bill that would renew a financing mechanism for the state’s Medicaid program hurtled irresistibly through the Georgia General Assembly. Gov. Nathan Deal signed it into law almost as soon as it was passed. The main part of the provider fee was eventually approved by the feds last year. But a second part of that provider fee, aimed at helping hospitals that were financial “losers’’ under the original distribution formula, has still not been approved.
Georgia health care had more than its share of drama and surprises in 2013. Some of the big stories were linked to the Affordable Care Act. This far-reaching federal law, passed in early 2010, was still generating changes and attracting controversy as if it were brand new. But the ACA wasn’t the only hot topic in Georgia health. Issues ranged from drug scares to complex policy disputes and funding battles.
Months after a high-profile fight to renew Georgia’s provider fee, the hospital industry is again concerned about the fee’s fate. This time, the source of the industry’s anxiety is not the state Capitol, but Washington. As the fiscal standoff intensified last month, the Republican House leadership at one point pushed repealing such Medicaid provider assessments, including those for nursing homes, according to hospital industry officials.
Calhoun Memorial Hospital, a small southwest Georgia facility, closed its doors Feb. 1. It collapsed under the cost of caring for patients who couldn’t pay. Some rural hospital advocates worry other small facilities face a similar fate in Georgia.