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Lawmakers agree to MET settlement with hospitals

CONCORD – A four-year agreement with all but one of the state's hospitals was approved by lawmakers on a bi-partisan vote Wednesday and will avert what could have been a $370 million budget shortfall this biennium.

Two superior courts ruled the state's tax on hospitals, or the Medicaid Enhancement Tax, was unconstitutional because it taxes only hospitals for services provided by other entities such as private laboratories, private physician practices and ambulatory surgical centers.

Over the next five years, the agreement will double the amount of state and federal money dedicated to helping hospitals recoup their uncompensated care or services they provide for which they are not paid or are underpaid due to the state reimbursement rates for the Medicaid program.

The hospital will have to abide by state tax guidelines issued last year and speed up payments, which will increase their tax liability during this and in the next four fiscal years.

The House voted 278-72 for Senate Bill 369, while the Senate approved the agreement on a voice vote.

Legislative approval is needed for the settlement to go forward. The bill now goes to the governor, whose office helped negotiate the agreement.

grayno@unionleader.com


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