SAN ANTONIO – Some Texas lawmakers are recommending what amounts to a hospital tax in the next budget.
It’s called a “quality assurance fee” and supporters say it could help lower health care costs for everyone.
Here’s how it would work: every hospital in Texas would be evenly assessed a bed tax.
"It would form a pool of money that then the state could use to draw down more federal funds for health care,” State Senator Leticia Van De Putte (D – San Antonio) says.
She explains Texas hospitals are losing money from treating millions of uninsured patients and that’s why people with insurance pay more in premiums.
State Senator Van De Putte says a hospital tax would help lower those premiums.
"If you're paying a small tax – and really the hospitals are paying a small tax, but they're getting back three or four times as much dollars to provide care – then it really helps lower the cost for everyone,” she says.
State lawmakers have considered a hospital fee in the past but it’s never gotten anywhere, largely because a majority of lawmakers didn’t want to raise taxes.
But another reason some lawmakers opposed it: it might not benefit every hospital.
For example, a 2011 model commissioned by the state showed if patients were taxed 3.4%, University Hospital would pay about $33 million but would receive more than $112 million from the state.
But Baptist Medical Center would pay $73 million and only receive about $30 million.
The tax could gain traction now, though, because it could be used under the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid. It could also be used to help hospitals booster their reimbursement rates.
News 4 WOAI will follow the legislative session to see what lawmakers decide.