Friday, March 19, 2010

Cookeville Regional CEO Discusses Hospital Tax

He doesn't really like it, but the chief executive officer of Cookeville Regional Medical Center says he is supporting a new 3.5% hospital tax, being considered by the Tennessee General Assembly. The tax, which has the support of the Tennessee Hospital Association, is being used as a way to lessen the impact of state budget cuts to TennCare. By taxing themselves, hospitals will help the state continue to draw down hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government. Those funds would otherwise be lost because of proposed TennCare cuts. The effect of Governor Bredesen's proposed cuts to TennCare would mean a $3 million reduction to Cookeville Regional Medical Center. And CEO Bernie Mattingly says hospitals feel like they have to support the tax to avoid detrimental cuts to service. But he also fears there will be no going back, even though the tax is only supposed to last one year. Twenty-six other states use this tax to draw down federal money, but officials say revenues from publicly-owned hospitals like Cookeville Regional are exempt.