Following remarks at the Georgia Hospital Association's Annual Meeting, Gov. Nathan Deal today signed Senate Bill 24, which will authorize the board of the Georgia Department of Community Health to implement the hospital provider fee. This fee provides the state matching funds needed to draw down federal Medicaid dollars critical to the survival of hospitals that serve the state's most vulnerable populations.
"Today, we took a major step forward in securing the financial stability needed for health care facilities throughout Georgia," said Deal. "Giving DCH the power to authorize a provider fee -- as it currently does with nursing homes -- will help ensure that hospitals, particularly rural hospitals and those serving a large number of Medicaid patients, will still receive their fair share of reimbursement.
"I am signing this legislation, passed overwhelmingly in both houses, because it is integral not only to the hospitals in Georgia but also to providing access to high-quality health care in all corners of the state."
SB 24 will now allow the DCH board to set the fee percentage based on the General Assembly's appropriation in the Medicaid budget. The funds raised through this fee can only be used for the purpose of drawing down federal matching dollars that will then be redistributed to hospitals.
Current federal law allows states to use revenue from provider fees to make up the state share of Medicaid. In most instances, the cost of the fee is returned to providers through an increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate or to avoid reductions in these rates. Hospitals in Georgia will continue to receive an enhanced Medicaid reimbursement rate. The fiscal year 2013 budget allocates $235 million in hospital provider fee revenue and $454 million in federal Medicaid revenue associated with the fee for a total of $689 million. The $689 million serves an important role in funding the healthcare for the state's current Medicaid program.