BLUE HILL — Hancock County hospitals may lose nearly $2 million a year if legislation proposed by Governor Paul LePage to reduce Medicaid reimbursements and increase hospital taxes is approved.
While LePage is making good on his campaign promise to pay hospitals what they’re owed for years of unpaid Medicaid services, hospital officials say the proposed legislation is too severe.
“It leads to people thinking it’s a trade-off and all is well,” Blue Hill Selectman Jim Schatz said Friday at the board’s weekly meeting. “It’s probably better to keep reimbursement at 109 percent than to pay off the debt.”
“It could mean layoffs,” said Schatz, who serves on Blue Hill Memorial Hospital’s Board of Trustees.
Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Roraff said, “The options we face are pretty drastic.”
Both Blue Hill Memorial and Mount Desert Island Hospital are designated “critical access” hospitals. As such, the hospitals are reimbursed for Medicare services at a higher rate than hospitals in more populated locations like Maine Coast Memorial Hospital.
“They’ve already reduced our reimbursement from 117 percent to 109 percent,” Roraff said. “Now they want to take it down to 101 percent.”
“There’s really only a couple ways we could still balance our budget if the state takes away that level of reimbursement,” Roraff said. “Ultimately, it means over half a million dollars of revenue to Blue Hill Memorial Hospital. I don’t know how we would adapt in our budget to losing over half a million dollars. We are trying to influence this legislation as best we can.”