South Texas County Reaps Benefits of Re-Distribution of Wealth – “Free” Money For Unpaid Medical Bills

wealth“The county’s $9 million (taxpayer funded)  investment will become $22.5 million, which will be used to reimburse hospitals that provide care for uninsured people who can’t afford to pay their medical bills”.

Editor’s Note: Lets see here, taxpayers fund $9 million so that taxpayers can fund an additional $13.5 million. Yes, that makes perfect sense……….

EDINBURG — Hidalgo County shuffled some money — $9 million — from its general fund last week to pay into a state program to leverage federal money for indigent healthcare.

But Judge Ramon Garcia indicated he wanted the county to be less generous in future years, leaving hospitals to pick up more of the tab.

Garcia and county commissioners approved on Tuesday shorting some line items in the county general fund to pay into a state fund to come up with $9 million that would return about 1 1/2 times that in federal matching dollars. The county’s $9 million investment will become $22.5 million, which will be used to reimburse hospitals that provide care for uninsured people who can’t afford to pay their medical bills.

Under Texas law, a county without a hospital taxing district — that funds public hospitals — must spend 8 percent of its budget for indigent care. For Hidalgo County, which does not have a hospital district, 8 percent is about $13.5 million. The federal matching dollars, available under the federal 1115 Medicaid waiver, allows the county to spend much less than that and use the federal funds to meet the state mandate.

Next year, Garcia said he’d like the county to pay closer to $5 million.

Between county taxpayer money and revenue from the hospitals, Hidalgo County sent in about $31.5 million to the state for a return of about $47.25 million in federal dollars for a total of $78.75 million.

County leaders were expecting to pay the full $9 million over two installments this year, but representatives of the county’s health department appeared at Commissioners Court on May 20 with news that the state had asked the county to commit to the full payment by the close of business that day and pay it in full by June 2.

The court directed Budget Officer Sergio Cruz to transfer money from some budget items that he expected wouldn’t need the full amount they were set for, for example, salaries of positions that aren’t filled. They finalized that action last week.

The health department had only learned on May 19 — a day before its representatives went before Commissioners Court — that a commitment was due imminently, said Eddie Olivarez, who heads the department.

For the most complete version of this article, visit MyMonitorNews.com.

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