Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Voters Likely to Decide Health Care Tax Proposal

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Voters Likely to Decide Health Care Tax Proposal

Article excerpt

By Ron Jenkins Associated Press A health care provider tax plan now under discussion probably will go to a vote of the people, Gov. David Walters said Wednesday.

Walters' comments came in an informal news conference in the Capitol press room.

He said one proposal discussed at a meeting this week would raise $100 million through basically a gross receipts tax which would hit health care providers such as nursing homes, hospitals, doctors and pharmacists.

"It's pretty hard to call that anything other than a gross receipts tax on providers," he said.

He added it would "almost certainly go to a vote _ the issue is timing."

He said it would probably be voted upon at the November general election because of the difficulty of passing a tax plan under the three-fourths requirement of State Question 640.

State officials are considering a health care provider tax to cure a projected shortage of up to $125 million next year in the state Department of Human Services.

Funds raised by the tax would go to match federal Medicaid funds on roughly a 70-30 split. Officials say providers will lose much more than the tax if the money is not raised and they have to ax Medicaid funding.

Walters said if the tax is $50 million it would generate roughly $200 million in revenue.

He said a plan to raise $100 million was discussed at a meeting with health care providers on Monday. He said no decision has been made on the final form of the tax or the exact amount.

Under State Question 640, a three-fourths vote is required to enact a tax increase immediately. If such a majority is not obtained, the tax plan is placed on the next general election ballot.

Walters said the lag in raising the money will exacerbate the funding problem at the Department of Human Sercvices.

Officials previously have stated that the health care provider plan might fall into the category of a fee or assessment, thus eliminating the requirement for a vote. …

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