A Baliles administration plan to impose $58 million a year in fees on Virginia hospitals and nursing homes to help finance health care for the poor received a favorable reaction yesterday from the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, Del. Dorothy S. McDiarmid (D-Fairfax).
"This is a very innovative and forward-looking idea," McDiarmid said after the committee was briefed on the proposal. "It sounds as though it could put Virginia way ahead in an area where we are short . . . without hurting anybody."
The proposal, strongly opposed by the hospital industry, would impose a $5 per bed per day annual licensing fee on hospitals and a $1 per bed per day fee on nursing homes. The plan also includes a one-time initial licensing fee of $250,000 per 100 beds for new facilities.
State officials told the committee that most of the fee revenue from the two industries would be doubled by the federal government, which matches state Medicaid funds. Most also would be returned to the industry in Medicaid reimbursements for improved services. The fees paid by hospitals and nursing homes would total $58 million a year, or $116 million for the biennium, according to newly revised figures presented to the committee.
Of the $116 million, $29.8 million would go into a trust fund to be used to reimburse hospitals for uncompensated care to indigents.
When federal matching funds are added, the fee plan would create an additional $167.8 million in general fund revenue in the next biennium to be used to expand or improve state's Medicaid program, officials said.
The cost of Virginia's Medicaid program in the 1988-90 biennium is projected to be $1.55 billion, of which the state pays half.
The hospital and nursing fee plan was not included in the budget and would add to the amount already budgeted. State officials have said that unless some kind of funding mechanism is found by 1989, drastic cuts will have to be made in the Medicaid program.