Hospital leaders testify against cutting state match to Medicaid funds

HOSPITAL LEADERS recently testified in opposition to proposed state cuts to the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital program. / PBN FILE PHOTO/NICOLE DOTZENROD
HOSPITAL LEADERS recently testified in opposition to proposed state cuts to the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital program. / PBN FILE PHOTO/NICOLE DOTZENROD

PROVIDENCE – On Thursday, hospital leaders from throughout the state testified at the House Committee on Finance’s Human Services Subcommittee hearing on the Executive Office of Health and Human Services’ proposed fiscal year 2019 budget, which cuts state funds to match federal dollars for hospitals caring for Medicaid patients.

The Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital program provides financial assistance to hospitals that care for the most vulnerable populations – children, the poor, the disabled and elderly, according to a statement from the Hospital Association of Rhode Island.

Last year, the budget introduced by Gov. Gina M. Raimondo established the licensing fee or provider tax paid by the hospitals at 5.65 percent. The final budget passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor increased the licensing fee to 5.86 percent. This generated $182 million in state revenue. The hospitals have worked in partnership with the state on this issue every year.

Teresa Paiva Weed, president of HARI, testified that “the current budget does not include the funding needed to draw down on all of the federal DSH funds agreed to in the FY 2018 enacted budget. Absent this restoration, the impact on the hospitals in Rhode Island is a total loss of over $32 million.”

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CharterCARE Health Partners CEO John Holiver said this reduction “threatens to destabilize our hospitals and jeopardize the efforts we have made to transform the Rhode Island health care delivery system.”

“The disproportionate share funding provides partial compensation to our hospitals for the treatment and services provided to Medicaid patients, uninsured and underinsured individuals, and our hospitals will be in serious and immediate jeopardy if these funds are not restored,” said Dr. James Fanale, president and CEO of Care New England Health System.

Michael Souza, CEO of Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, said the proposed budget will force hospitals to further reduce expenses that ultimately impact patient care.

Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com.