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City council supports hospital provider fee

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The Delta City Council has sent a letter to Senator Kerry Donovan urging her to support legislation that moves the hospital provider fee to an enterprise fund.

The state Legislature has been debating the merits of SB 267, which city manager David Torgler describes as "a big, complicated piece of legislation that deals with some complicated concepts with respect to Colorado's Constitution, the state budget, TABOR, enterprise funds, government fees, taxes, health care expenses/eligibility, debt vs. not debt, certificates of participation, state highway funding, education funding, capital construction and other things."

It's the subject of hospital provider fees -- and the financial impact to Delta County Memorial Hospital -- that prompted the council to voice support of Section 6 of SB 267.

Without legislative action, the state budget will cut $528 million in funding for hospitals across the state, according to the Colorado Hospital Association.

All hospitals pay the hospital provider fee, which is matched by the federal government and redistributed to help hospitals offset the cost of serving Medicaid patients.

The funds provide a safety net for rural hospitals like Delta County Memorial Hospital. The hospital has received $2 million in hospital provider fees, an amount anticipated to be cut to $700,000 due to the application of TABOR restrictions. The Colorado Hospital Association has advocated the hospital provider fee be made an enterprise that's not subject to TABOR.

Hospital CEO Jason Cleckler said the hospital has the reserves to weather a year of cuts, but it will be difficult for the hospital to survive without the hospital provider fee in the long term. DCMH is the largest employer in Delta County with over 600 employees and an annual payroll of $31 million.

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