The controversial “bed tax” fills a $700 million gap in state Medicaid budget, ensuring that hospitals which depend on Medicaid remain solvent. The tax is set to expire in June of this year.
Since the renewal of the “bed tax” would be extremely difficult in Georgia Legislature this year, as it was the last time it was passed in 2010, on Monday Governor Deal introduced S.B. 24, or the Hospital Medicaid Financing Program Act, to shift the responsibility of levying the fee to the Department of Community Health (DCH).
Before the vote, the Committee added one amendment to S.B. 24 calling for renewal of the fee every four years - instead of five, as it was originally written.
The bill has many supporters, such as the House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, and it is supported by all major hospitals in Georgia.
However, the anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist criticized Deal's alternative plan. Norquist's spokesperson Josh Culling called it "a step in the wrong direction, attempting to absolve the governor and legislature of any potential blame for the looming tax increase."