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WI Hospital Leaders Testify in Support of Medicaid Reimbursement Increases

“Lawmakers of both parties state that Medicaid provider rates are a problem.”

April 09, 2019

Wisconsin’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee heard from two hospital leaders last week during the first public hearing on Governor Evers’ two-year state budget proposal. Ben Layman, President of SSM St. Mary’s Hospital - Janesville, and Mike Wallace, President and CEO of Fort HealthCare testified during the Janesville hearing in support of hospital reimbursement increases in the Governor’s proposed budget bill. 

“Lawmakers of both parties have frequently stated, in the context of the policy debate surrounding Medicaid expansion, that Medicaid provider rates in Wisconsin are a problem that shifts costs and makes health care less affordable for Wisconsin families and businesses. We agree, and ask you to act on these concerns,” said Wallace.

The Governor’s budget would increase hospital reimbursement by $365 million over the upcoming biennium. The budget proposal increases the state’s investment in the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program by $58 million, doubling the Rural Critical Care supplement program, and increasing support for the hospital assessment access payment program—a result of expanding Medicaid to everyone living below 138% of the federal poverty level. 

“Wisconsin’s Medicaid reimbursement rates continue to negatively impact our ability to expand access to care and result in a significant cost-shift to employers and families in each community we serve,” said Layman.

The Governor’s budget proposal also targets reimbursement increases in specific areas of care delivery including telehealth, behavioral health and special needs dental services. The Governor’s budget includes $69 million to fund reimbursement increases for behavioral health providers. 

“Considering Wisconsin has the second-worst reimbursement rates in the country, these reimbursement increases are warranted and welcomed by health care leaders across the state—we ask you to support these increases,” said Layman.

Twenty-four hospital and health system leaders in southern Wisconsin joined Wallace and Layman in a written letter to the Committee, asking to use the Governor’s budget bill to increase Medicaid reimbursement for hospitals, using new resources resulting from Medicaid expansion or the state’s existing $234 million Medicaid surplus.

“Governor Evers’ proposed budget includes funding for these proposals derived through Medicaid expansion. We applaud the Governor for directing all of these resources to important health care priorities, including hospital reimbursement. Whether through Medicaid expansion or other funding sources, we believe the resources exist to achieve these key priorities,” said Wallace.

This story originally appeared in the April 09, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter