By Bonnie Culverhouse
When is a tax not a tax? Well, probably never, but the one presented recently to the Webster Parish Police Jury is as close as it gets.
Minden Medical Center CEO Jim Williams told the jury he supports a vote in favor of an ordinance creating a Local Healthcare Provider Participation Program that will levy an occupational license tax on MMC.
“While it would seem unlikely that any business would support a new tax, the result of this tax is an enhanced Medicaid reimbursement for medical care in the parish,” Williams said. “The enhanced reimbursement will exceed the cost of the tax.”
Williams said current Medicaid reimbursements do not cover the actual cost of care, creating a financial strain on providers.
“As this is a growing national problem, many jurisdictions have begun programs similar to this and have levied local taxes to fund the state’s share of the program,” he said. “We hope that Webster Parish will follow suit.”
According to a letter presented to the jury, Williams wrote, “The Local Healthcare Provider Participation Program, revenue will be used to fund Louisiana’s share of Medicaid, which is a lesser portion than the federal share. As the state’s funding increases, the federal portion increases at a greater rate and permits enhanced Medicaid reimbursements at the federal government’s cost. The net effect is that healthcare in Webster Parish is bettered by the program.”
Support of the tax was approved unanimously by the police jury, with only one juror – Allen Gilbert – absent.
It will be collected by Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker and is calculated upon net patient revenue.
“We understand the parish will retain up to 5 percent of the revenue before turning it over to the Department of Health and Hospitals to fund the state’s share of Medicaid,” Williams said.