How they see it

March 14

Charleston Daily Mail on the state’s Medicaid provider tax:

The Legislature passed, with little fanfare, a provider tax on acute-care hospitals. It will expire on June 30, 2013. Then again, the food tax was a temporary tax when it passed in 1988.

The provider tax will be used to help pay the state’s share of money for the Medicaid program. The tax is a way to prime the federal money pump.

House Health Committee chairman Don Perdue, D-Wayne, told delegates that hospitals cannot pass along the cost of this tax as higher charges to patients.

If the cost of the tax is not passed along to the patients — the customers of the hospital — then who pays it?

Will the money come from capital reserves? From the ether?

From bookkeeping chicanery?

Medical accounting is a special branch of economic alchemy, but this mechanism is more special than most.

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