When money is involved, debates and arguments inevitably follow. The plan for a State of Wisconsin assessment on hospitals is no exception, and because it involves health care, the issue can be more complex than others.
By now you probably know that the Greater Milwaukee Committee has expressed support for the hospital assessment, and more than a few may wonder why the GMC is doing so.
Hospitals in Wisconsin, and especially in Milwaukee, must and do provide care for anyone in need, regardless of their means to pay. This means costs without corresponding revenue, and to make up for that deficit, hospitals must charge other patients more than they might otherwise have to in order to maintain their services.
Government assistance, particularly for Medicaid patients, has been lacking in Wisconsin. Wisconsin continues to rank low for federal dollars we receive. Hospitals have seen no increase in Medicaid reimbursement in nearly 13 years, and during that time, operating costs have risen dramatically. Statewide, Medicaid reimbursement covers only 48 percent of the actual costs of providing care.
The way it is now, cost shifting from the underfunding of the state Medicaid program has to be covered by business community, patients and ultimately, the taxpayers. The hospital assessment actually eases this burden and allows hospitals and government in Wisconsin to take advantage of the same Medicaid maximization opportunity that nearly half of all U.S. states have already profited from.
It really becomes a federal fair share issue, something Wisconsin needs to be more aggressive with wherever possible.
Since the benefits work for hospitals, the state, patients and the taxpayers, the Greater Milwaukee Committee wishes to lend its support.
Richard Greene is the director of operations for the Greater Milwaukee Committee, an organization of the region’s business, labor, academic, philanthropic, nonprofit and civic leaders.