Local Hospitals React to Governor's Proposed Tax

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - No industry is immune to the growing financial crisis, and now, proposed legislation by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue could make it even worse for local hospitals trying to serve the area's Medicaid patients.

"Hospitals are really struggling with people out of work and even self-paying people aren't paying their own bills," said Larry Sanders, the CEO of the Columbus Regional Healthcare Network.

In his State of the State last week, Governor Perdue tried to sell his plan to pose a 1.6% levy on hospitals and insurers throughout the state.

"Like families sitting around kitchen tables all across Georgia, we're doing what is necessary to balance our checkbook," said Perdue.

Many in the medical field say the Governor needs to look at other alternatives, like a tax on cigarettes, to make up the deficit, or else medical care throughout the state could be severely disabled.

"You literally will see hospitals close. They can't come up with 1.6% of their revenue because they are losing money today," said Sanders.

Another point of contention: some of the revenue from the hospital tax will go towards funding trauma care, and many say the plan will do nothing to help cash-strapped emergency rooms.

"To tax a hospital to raise the money needed for Medicaid doesn't make a lot of sense," said Sanders.