New bill aims to ease Nebraska hospitals financial issues

Feb. 2, 2024, 5 p.m. ·

Four people in a hospital room look and attend to a patient in a bed.
Eighty-two percent of York General Hospital staff are fully vaccinated, according to CEO Jim Ulrich. (Photo courtesy York General on Facebook)

A new bill proposed in the Nebraska Legislature would bring in $2.19 of federal Medicaid money for every $1 paid into the program by Nebraska hospitals.

LB 1087, or the Hospital Quality Assurance and Access Assessment Act, attempts to alleviate financial problems of hospitals in the state.

On Friday, the Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on the bill.

Forty-four states and the District of Columbia currently participate in such a program.

Senator Mike Jacobson of North Platte introduced the bill, which has bipartisan support from a total of 20 senators.

He said previous Medicaid funding bills couldn’t fill the funding hole hospitals experience now.

“It will have a dramatic impact on reimbursement rates, hospital services, and ultimately on the availability of health care across the state,” Jacobson said.

Testifiers and members of the committee highlighted the current challenges to receiving maternal and mental health care, especially in rural parts of the state.

Each licensed hospital in the state would pay into a fund at six percent of their yearly revenue.

Authors of the bill say no additional state funding would be required.

Scottsbluff’s Regional West Medical Center CEO, Mel McNea, said his hospital lost $54 million in 2022.

“And I would have to say the post-COVID challenges are actually different and much more challenging than what I witnessed as actually serving during the COVID years,” McNea said.