By Christina W. Severin*
February 26, 2009
On February 19, 2009, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed legislation that creates an assessment on hospital revenue as a way to bring more healthcare dollars to the State.
Part of a larger piece of economic recovery legislation, the expanded hospital assessment is expected to provide a net benefit to a majority of the state's affected hospitals. Specifically, the funds obtained through the assessment will be used to increase the amount paid to hospitals through the state's Medicaid program. Hospitals have not seen an increase in these amounts in more than a decade. In addition, investments made using the additional assessment revenues will result in an increase in matching federal dollars available for the Medicaid program. Finally, the legislation also allows the state to use the increased revenue to expand healthcare coverage for low-income childless adults through a plan that received federal approval in late 2008.
The assessment will have a retroactive effect dating back to July 1, 2008, and increased Medicaid payment rates are expected to take effect soon. The first full year of implementation is set to begin on July 1, 2009.
Other bills continue to move through the legislature that could expand healthcare coverage and options available to Wisconsin residents. Examples include a proposal mandating coverage of autistic spectrum disorders, as well as a proposal to expand and mandate health insurance coverage of an insured's eligible dependents. As the legislature continues its work, more updates will be forthcoming.
*We wish to thank Christina W. Severin , Esquire (Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman, Milwaukee, WI) for writing this email alert.