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Kurk's health care tax: A bad idea we don't need

April 19. 2018 11:45PM

Taxing all health care services to give more money to hospitals seems like a bad idea.

House Finance Committee Chairman Neal Kurk has cooked up a cockamamie proposal to impose a 5.4 percent tax on health care service providers in order to make up for the uncompensated care revenues that New Hampshire hospitals believe they are owed.

Kurk would replace the long-disputed Medicaid Enhancement Tax (MET) on hospitals with a tax on most health-related businesses.

The state of New Hampshire first passed the MET as a way to leverage federal matching funds, returning the hospitals’ tax payments to them through the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program. The state pocketed the money from Uncle Sam. Hospitals were happy to play along, but started protesting a few years ago when the Legislature separated the MET revenues from the DSH payments.

Kurk argues that if taxing just hospitals is unconstitutional, we should tax everyone. That’s a bit like swatting a fly with a howitzer.

Kurk has no idea how much money his new tax would raise. He’s trying to add it to a bill increasing funding for child protective services.

Kurk is lashing out at hospitals, which won a legal dispute about $36 million in uncompensated care payments. We share his frustration, but do not support his solution. The House should scrap Kurk’s health care tax.

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