Sometimes committees take up mundane bills. Sometimes they alter the face of health practice, at least a little. Tuesday was the latter in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Resources.
Bill allows critical access hospitals to close inpatient facilities
Members approved SB 593, which allows critical access hospitals to close their inpatient facilities—often kept open at a financial loss—and still be eligible to have ambulances bring patients to the facilities for care. The facilities must have transfer protocols and must be critical access hospitals before they can apply to become community outpatient medical centers.
Committee Chairman Michael J. Maroney, a physician, said CAH facilities provide valuable services, often stabilizing patients before transferring them to other facilities, but lose money on inpatient services, which they must have to maintain their ambulance practices. The bill goes to the Senate.
Bill increases coverage for pregnant women, children
Committee members approved SB 564. The bill extends Medicaid coverage for pregnant women from 150 percent of the poverty level to 185 percent. It also provides 60 days post-postpartum coverage.
It bumps up CHIP coverage for pregnant women to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. CHIP already covers children at 300 percent of the FPL. Medicaid Commissioner Cindy Beane said the additional cost in state dollars is about $868,000, generating federal dollars to make the bill’s fiscal impact about $36 million. The bill now goes to the Committee on Finance.
Committee approves 50 percent tax credit for physicians locating in state
Physicians locating in West Virginia would get a 50 percent tax credit according to
SB 80, approved by the committee. Members pegged that down from a 100 percent tax credit. The bill establishes procedures for qualifying for the tax credit and for repaying it if qualifications are unmet The bill now goes to the Finance Committee.
The Finance Committee approves physician upper payment level. On Tuesday afternoon, Finance members approved Committee Substitute for SB 546, allowing acute care hospitals to increase provider tax payments by .13 percent. The extra money drawn down from Medicaid goes toward enhancing reimbursement of hospital-employed physicians.