Phoenix to tax hospitals to aid uninsured patients
The Phoenix City Council on Tuesday adopted an ordinance to tax local hospitals and pool the money, a move that would generate more than $200 million in federal matching funds for the hospitals to care for uninsured and underinsured patients.
The vote created the Phoenix Access to Care Ordinance, which would impose a short-term tax on 11 local hospitals to generate about $130 million.
Under the ordinance, hospitals cannot pass the tax along to patients. Instead, the money will create a funding source for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, and trigger a 2-1 federal match.
Mayor Greg Stanton praised the ordinance as not only good for the city’s residents but for hospitals across the state, which account for nearly $28billion of economic activity and almost 3 percent of jobs in Arizona.
“This is the right move for this city at this time for jobs and economic development,” Stanton said. “We simply cannot succeed … if our hospitals are not strong. We cannot allow our hospitals to be put at a competitive disadvantage.”
More than 100 doctors, nurses and other representatives of the health-care industry attended Tuesday’s council meeting to support the ordinance, including several hospital leaders. Many praised the plan as a partial — albeit temporary — solution to soaring “uncompensated care” costs in recent years due to unemployment and AHCCCS cuts.