Following a federal court decision, the New Hampshire government owes hospitals in the state $71 million for uncompensated care.
About uncompensated care
The court case concerns the payments state and federal governments make to hospitals for providing services for people who cannot afford treatment. These services are called “uncompensated care.”
Hospitals that serve many low income individuals end up providing a significant amount of uncompensated care. Since this makes it more difficult for those hospitals to pay their bills and continue to serve the public, state and federal governments chip in.
A court dispute over uncompensated care
The court case concerns whether Medicaid patients fall under uncompensated care. While Medicaid does pay for treatments, Medicaid generally pays much less than private insurance. For that reason, hospitals argue that Medicaid patients should count when the government is calculating uncompensated care.
A federal court recently agreed with the hospitals. However, when the state passed a budget last year, it calculated uncompensated care payments without factoring in Medicaid patients – so now the state is coming up $71 million short.
How should the state cover the $71 million bill?
State officials are negotiating with hospitals and might reach an agreement to pay less.
The court case is also ongoing, and a new appeal or decision might erase the $71 million bill.
Meanwhile Rep. Neal Kurk has proposed a new tax on all health care providers to raise the funds.
How do you think the state should address uncompensated care and Medicaid? Share your opinion in the comments below.