Hospitals not happy with Democrats' budget but Republicans want to cut aid even more

CONCORD — The state's largest hospitals, already fearful that the 2014-2015 budget before the New Hampshire House of Representatives today will leave them without payments for uncompensated care for the second consecutive biennium, will find no comfort in amendments offered by the Republican minority that would strip another $40.4-million from uncompensated care payments.
With Democrats in control of the House, the amendments will likely fail and the budget presented by the House Finance Committee carry on a party-line vote.
The Finance Committee trimmed Governor Maggie Hassan's recommended appropriation for uncompensated care by $32.9-million, from $197.3-million to $164.4-million. The payments are funded with the proceeds of the Medicaid Enhancement Tax (MET), which is levied against the net patient income of hospitals at a rate of 5.5-percent, and matched dollar for dollar by the federal government, effectively doubling the appropriation. In order of priority, the funds are distributed first to Medicaid providers, then to the state general fund and finally to the hospitals for uncompensated care.
Henry Lipman, senior vice-president of LRGHealthcare in Laconia, likens the distribution formula to a waterfall, which hospital officials expect to dwindle to a trickle or run bone dry run dry before it reaches them.
The Republican amendments would further reduce the appropriation for uncompensated care payments by $13-million to lower the business enterprise and business profit taxes, by $20-millon to reduce the tobacco tax and by $7.4-million to offset the transfer to the counties of an equivalent amount in costs for the long-term care of the elderly.
Together the House Finance Committee's $32.9-million reduction in the governor's budget and the sum total of the Republican amendments amount to a reduction in the appropriation for uncompensated care payments of $73.3-million, which with the foregone federal matching funds represents a loss of revenue to hospitals of $146.6-million.