by Pam Zubeck
A new fee charged to Colorado hospitals will help create a "massive expansion of health insurance for people with low incomes," the Colorado Center on Law and Policy/Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute says in a press release.
The fee was approved this week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and will enable the state to extend Medicaid eligibility, starting May 1, to more than 100,000 additional Colorado citizens and lawful residents.
This in turn, will give hospitals that supply a large amount of indigent care a financial boost. Among those is city-owned Memorial Health System, which stands to gain more than $5.3 million.
"As the largest provider of uncompensated care in the Pikes Peak region, Memorial Health System is pleased this provider-fee program will increase people's access to health care," Memorial spokesman Brian Newsome said in an e-mail. "And although providing care to people regardless of their ability to pay is a source of pride for Memorial, the expected increase in reimbursement will help us serve even more people in need."
Centura Penrose-St. Francis in Colorado Springs stands to lose $3.7 million. "At Centura Health, we support the new state hospital provider fee because of the expansion of health coverage for thousands of Coloradans," Penrose-St. Francis spokesman Chris Valentine said in an e-mail.
The provider fee will yield about $600 million statewide, which will be leveraged against federal dollars to secure $1.2 billion to expand health care access.
The fee is computed based on a formula that includes numbers of in-patient and out-patient days, among other things.
From the newly created pool of money, the state will redistribute the funds to hospitals and state agencies, which will result in hospitals with relatively low levels of uncompensated care seeing a net decrease in revenue while hospitals with high rates of uncompensated care will see a net increase.
The Colorado Center on Law and Policy issued this table showing the net gain or loss to hospitals in the state as a result of the fee.