Letter: HB532 to aid health care in Louisiana

Legislators have repeatedly approached the Louisiana Hospital Association and member hospitals with requests to generate creative solutions to help with the Medicaid crisis. To that end, the association, which represents hospitals across the state, has been examining what other states are doing successfully in this area.

After much research, we sought the advice of a national expert to assist in the development of a model that would allow the state to access more federal funding for our Medicaid program, which currently has not been possible because of a shortage of state general fund dollars.

As a result, House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, and House Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, filed House Bill 532, the Louisiana Hospital Stabilization Formula and Fund, and House Bill 533 to help stabilize the health-care delivery system in Louisiana and provide an alternative, responsible funding solution for health care.

HB532 would use the monies generated by a hospital provider assessment to access federal matching funds, which would add significant new funding to Louisiana’s health-care delivery system. Bringing this additional money into the state is just part of the equation.

The most important aspect of the model is that the money would be used to take care of Louisiana’s most-needy residents. The federal matching funds would be used to treat Medicaid and uninsured patients, which also helps stabilize the health-care system for those with insurance.

Hospitals would be using money from their operating budgets for the assessment — money that they already have — to increase Medicaid funding. Therefore, the cost would not be passed on to patients or businesses.

In fact, it would do just the opposite. It would help combat rising insurance costs and protect health care services and jobs. There is no such thing as a “bed tax,” as some opponents would lead the public to believe!

HB532 is a fiscally responsible solution to a complicated health-care problem. Our community hospitals will continue to be a part of the solution so they can continue to care for you and your families 24/7.

Urge your legislators to support HB532 and HB533. To learn more about these bills, visit http://www.lhaonline.org/ProtectHealthcare.

John A. Matessino, president and CEO

Louisiana Hospital Association

Baton Rouge