Okla. House Gives the Thumbs Up For Hospital Fees

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Lawmakers in the state Legislature are trying to find a way to give more assistance to low-income people to cover health care costs. A bill that would impose a fee on hospitals in order to generate about $350 million for this purpose passed the House 76-22 Thursday.

The measure by Republican state Rep. Doug Cox is designed to shore up funding for the state's Medicaid system, and is supported by state hospitals. The bill would impose a 2 percent fee on a hospital's net revenue.

The Oklahoma Hospital Association says that fee would generate about $123 million, which then would be used to draw about $220 million in federal matching funds. Cox, a physician from Grove, says that without the revenue, hospitals will continue to lose money treating Medicaid patients and ultimately be forced to close their doors.