Medicaid provider fee is extended by Senate

[private]The Senate voted 50-3 Thursday to pass SB 70, which would extend the Medicaid provider tax paid by Georgia’s hospitals for another three years.

Sens. Bill Heath, Judson Hill and Josh McKoon were the only no votes. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.Medicaidtaxvote

SB 70 is backed by Gov. Nathan Deal and the legislative leadership because it will mean nearly $1 billion in annual funding for Medicaid.

“State and federal dollars are at stake here,” said Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville).

The bill would raise about $311 million in revenues from hospitals paying the tax, which in turn would bring in about $600 million in federal funding.

Some senators objected to the tax measure on constitutional grounds.

“Revenue bills are supposed to originate in the House of Representatives,” Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) said, citing the provision on tax legislation in the Georgia Constitution.

Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlants) argued that Georgia would bring in even more federal funds by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, a move that Republican lawmakers have opposed.

“Georgia has two million people who are uninsured,” Fort said. “We would do better to expand Medicaid. . . . Rural hospitals would benefit from Medicaid expansion even more than urban hospitals.”

“An expansion of Medicaid is not what this bill’s about,” Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said.

Fort also had an intense exchange with Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) during the floor debate, at one point telling her, “Madame, don’t turn your back to me when I’m talking.”

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Butch Miller , Josh McKoon , Medicaid provider fee , Vincent Fort