LB 1087 signed Friday, hospitals could see $1B per year

March 29, 2024, 5 a.m. ·

Bryan Medical Center - Pediatric Unit - Photo.png
A hallway in the pediatric care unit at Bryan Health East Campus in Lincoln. (Photo courtesy of Bryan Health)

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Gov. Jim Pillen will sign LB 1087 Friday. The bill will send a big dose of federal Medicaid money to hospitals in Nebraska.

In total, the Nebraska Hospitals Association said its members will receive up to $1 billion dollars every year through the Medicaid program.

Jeremy Norquist is the president of the Nebraska Hospitals Association. He said dwindling profits caused health care facilities to cut back on maternity care and behavioral health services.

“Hospitals will get reimbursed adequately for those services now, and we think it'll not only help sustain hospitals that provide those services today but will grow those services in the years ahead,” Nordquist said.

LB 1087 comes with quality measures, too. Norquist said this includes hospitals talking with patients about social drivers of health such as adequate housing, transportation and food security before they leave.

The new model will flip how money is made from serving Medicaid patients, Norquist said. Previously, hospitals lost money by serving Medicaid patients. But now?

“The dollars follow the Medicaid patients,” he said.

A problem with access to quality health care across the country has been the increasing private equity ownership. Those facilities tend not to serve the communities and patients well, according to several reports and research studies.

Norquist said Nebraska hospitals are largely owned by local communities and nonprofit boards.

“But to maintain that, we need to make sure the financial bottom lines of our hospitals are good,” he said.

A few steps remain.

He’s working with the Nebraska DHHS to finalize the financial model for the program. Also, DHHS will have to formally apply to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) to get into the program. The department and governor’s office will also need to reapply each year.

Norquist said, “the governor certainly understands that, first and foremost, we got to get those hospitals that are losing money on operations back to a healthier spot.”

He said NHA will provide reports to the legislature and the governor each year about the progress made through LB 1087.