BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal announced that he signed HB 879 into law to compensate the state’s hospitals for hurricane-related losses over the last few years and to cover costs for treating uninsured patients, also called “uncompensated care.” The Governor officially signed the bill yesterday.
Governor Jindal said, “This legislation will compensate hospitals more than $212 million for hurricane-related losses and is an important part of helping this industry meet its continuing financial needs, following the two back-to-back storms we experienced last year.”
The hurricane-related losses have been a severe problem for hospitals in the southern part of the state since August and September 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated several parishes’ medical infrastructure. Hospitals suffered additional losses last fall as a result of hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
The uncompensated care costs to hospitals are an ongoing problem that affects facilities statewide. Uncompensated care takes place when hospitals provide care for patients without insurance or other financial means to pay for their care.
HB 879 authorizes a one-time, special Medicaid payment to hospitals statewide for their uncompensated care costs (UCC) and hurricane-related losses. The total includes $170 million to hospitals in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish for hurricane relief; $18 million to other hospitals along the coast and the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain for hurricane relief; $7.9 million for rural hospitals statewide to help offset reductions in the UCC pool for services to the uninsured; and $17 million for hospitals throughout the state to reset their UCC rates, so that, for the first time, they are at the same level as New Orleans and Lake Charles.
Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Alan Levine said, “I applaud Governor Jindal for signing HB 879 into law. With our federal health care dollars in jeopardy at a time when the demand for healthcare services is growing, the Legislature and the Governor acted in a manner that helps stabilize hospital services and access to care statewide.
"On behalf of the members of the Louisiana Hospital Association, we extend our appreciation to Governor Jindal, Secretary Alan Levine, House Speaker Jim Tucker and the legislature for the successful passage of HB 879. This bill recognizes the financial harm caused to hospitals as a result of the four hurricanes over the past three years, and the joint effort to help our hospitals that are always there ready to serve 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—a fact important to us all, as we are again in hurricane season. The Louisiana Hospital Association would also like to recognize the entire Louisiana Congressional Delegation for their efforts in Washington to make HB 879 possible,” said John Matessino, LHA President and CEO.
The Louisiana Department of Health serves to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.