Jueves, 19 Julio, 2018

New Statistics Demonstrate Desperate Need to Increase Cigarette Tax

Oklahoma health care providers push for cigarette tax hike Health Care Groups Urge Lawmakers To Pass A Tobacco Tax Increase
Cris De Lacerda | 20 Abril, 2017, 08:38

With Oklahoma's $878 million budget shortfall, the state's largest insurer is facing reimbursement rate cuts as high as 25 percent, which could threaten the health of hospitals, physicians, pharmacies and nursing homes, officials say.

SSM Health Care Oklahoma also includes the Bone and Joint Hospital at St. Anthony, St. Anthony South in Oklahoma City, and the St. Anthony Shawnee Hospital in Shawnee.

More than 100 hospital employees converged on the Capitol Tuesday to urge lawmakers to approve a cigarette tax hike to help save the state's ailing health care system.

Nico Gomez, CEO of the Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers, said $93 million in state and federal funding cuts since 2010 have already forced more than one-quarter of nursing homes in the state to close.

Craig Jones, president of OHA, said the public strongly supports increasing the tax. Fallin said the tax would raise nearly $258 million for health care.

A $1.50 increase in the cigarette tax would more than double the state tax, from $1.03 a pack to more than $2.50.

Mothers who previously could get prenatal care but no longer can are going to The Children's Hospital emergency room in preterm labor and are delivering sick babies, Spicer said.

Chuck Spicer, CEO of the OU Medical System, said closures of rural hospitals would jeopardize trauma care for the entire state.

Rick Wagner, director of medical professionals for Eide Bailly, said of Oklahoma's 65 rural hospitals, 53 are operating at a loss, 37 have less than 14 days of cash on hand and seven operate payroll to payroll. Today, that figure is around 300. "One reason they have closed is because Oklahoma has one of the lowest Medicaid rate in the nation for nursing facilities".

"If they miss a Medicare or Medicaid payment, their ability to make payroll comes into question", Wagner said. "That's a huge problem when you consider that 70 percent of all residents at our skilled nursing facilities rely on Medicaid".

In all, more than 800,000 Oklahomans - nearly 1 in 5 - rely on Medicaid.

He said the state needs more money for health care; even without a reimbursement rate cut, 30 percent of nursing homes face closure. If that happens, more than a dozen hospitals will close within a year, four out of five hospitals will not deliver babies, and nine in 10 nursing homes would have to close.

Earlier this month, Doerflinger told the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to prepare for a possible 15 percent reduction in state appropriations.