Tennessee Sen. Corker Calls for Nationwide End of Provider Fee "Gimmick"

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is proposing a halt on hospital provider fees across the nation, calling the funding measure a "massive bed tax gimmick," according to a Chattanooga Times Free Press report.

Forty-seven states utilize provider fees across the country. Each state levies a certain tax or assessment on hospitals' and health systems' net patient revenues, and those funds are then matched by the federal government, which go toward the state's Medicaid program. Each state Medicaid program then doles out the extra reimbursements to organizations that provide care to a disproportionate amount of poor and indigent patients.

In Tennessee, for example, the state issues a 4.53 percent tax on hospitals' net patient revenue. Across all providers — hospitals, nursing homes, HMOs — the provider fee raised roughly $838 million last year, and the federal government matches the funds on almost a two-to-one ratio, according to the report. If provider fees were eliminated, Tennessee providers would lose $1.55 billion in extra federal support.

Sen. Corker said removing the provider fee would be part of a package to reduce the nation's deficit. A spokesperson for Sen. Corker told the Times Free Press that although he "understands why states and hospitals like this tax… the bed tax scheme adds to the federal government's fiscal problems and is something both parties agree is poor public policy."

Tennessee Hospital Association President Craig Becker, and other healthcare providers, disagreed with Sen. Corker, saying the provider tax helps hospitals that treat the poorest patients in each state. "I think the senator was a little harsh in his use of words," Becker told the Times Free Press. "I don't think it's a sham. I think it is a way of keeping the state whole and keeping…services for the citizens of Tennessee. I know of no other way to do it."

Sen. Corker was one of many Congressional Republicans who signed a no-taxes pledge, sponsored by Grover Norquist's group Americans for Tax Reform. However, he said in November that he is willing to break from the pact, according to a Washington Post report.

More Articles on Hospital Provider Fees:

Phoenix Approves Hospital Provider Fee to Boost Medicaid Revenue
Georgia Hospitals to Grover Norquist: Provider Fees Help
Oklahoma Receives Approval for Hospital Provider Fee

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