Kentucky hospital execs push for changes to healthcare tax code

Balanced Health Kentucky, a nonprofit group led by hospital executives, is calling for comprehensive healthcare tax reform to fund Medicaid expansion, according to WKU Public Radio.

On its website, the group said state lawmakers have "complete legislative authority to fully fund Medicaid expansion," and advocated for lowering existing tax rates and broadening the narrow base.

Balanced Health Kentucky is specifically urging lawmakers to increase the number of groups paying the state's healthcare provider tax that brings in about $300 million annually, according to the report.

Currently, hospitals pay the largest share of the tax, and the tax also is paid by home health agency services, hospital-based nursing facilities and psychiatric residential treatment facilities. Physicians, mental health counselors and others don't pay the tax.

"The federal government recognizes 18 distinct healthcare categories that can pay the [state's healthcare provider] tax in order to draw down that 2½ times federal match. For every dollar you raise at the state level, you can pull down 2½  times. That money goes to pay for what will be 500,000 people on Medicaid expansion," Balanced Health Kentucky President Riggs Lewis, who is also vice president of Louisville, Ky.-based Norton Healthcare, told WKU Public Radio.

Kentucky expanded Medicaid in 2014. According to the report, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who was not governor when Medicaid expansion passed, has expressed concerns about the expansion's cost.


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