Hospital 'bed tax' set to increase

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital. / Jessica Fairley

Governor Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 24 this week and what's being called the 'bed tax' is going into effect in hospitals across the state.

Starting in July hospitals will have to pay 1.45 percent of the taxes on their net patient revenue to the state's healthcare fund.

"Fiscal year 2013 we're going to be about 2.8 million dollars that we're contributing," said Stacey Beckham, Tift Regional Medical Center Publicist.

Governor Nathan Deal signed the bill to keep millions flowing into the state's healthcare fund. Each dollar collected from hospitals will be matched by the federal government and then set aside to pay for Medicaid and indigent patients.

According to Thomas S. Chambless, of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, the loss of millions of federal dollars to the healthcare fund would have been devastating to the state and to healthcare all across Georgia.

While both Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and the Tift Regional Medical Center are both set to gain from the tax hike, some hospitals that pay the tax may not see a reward.

"Because they don't have very many Medicaid clients, they will not get as much back as they contributed to the program," said Thomas Chambless, Phoebe's Vice President of General Council.

Although the tax is labeled as the bed tax, officials say there's nothing on any patient's bill that shows up as a tax for this specific law.

"It's not something the patients will have any effect from other than that it assures that health care organizations like Phoebe and hospitals across the state will be able to continue to provide care for Medicaid patients and take care of indigent patients," said Thomas Chambless.

As hospitals prepare to pay more, local agencies say they have no plans of raising medical fees.

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