BIBB COUNTY, Ga. — A Macon hospital board wants its local government to start sharing local property tax revenues to help fund those in need of care.
The Macon-Bibb County Hospital Board discussed its plans earlier this month, reports The Telegraph of Macon.
The agency oversees Atrium Health Navicent, the largest hospital in central Georgia and one of four top-rated trauma centers in the state.
If the Macon-Bibb County Commission approves the request, Macon-Bibb would be at least the 14th county statewide to use property taxes to pay for hospital care or physical enhancements, according to reporting from the State Revenue Department and the Associated Press.
Michele Madison, an attorney for the agency, said the agency is seeking money to pay for care for people who are uninsured and too poor to pay.
State law allows counties to use up to $7 million in property taxes to fund hospital buildings or subsidize health care.
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“So you’re going to see some very big dollars, and then you’re just going to see some millage rates that help sustain hospital boards across the state,” Madison said.
Most notably, Fulton and DeKalb counties subsidize Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital, a safety-net hospital and the only top-rated trauma center in the greater Atlanta area. The hospital has urged both counties to increase payments following Wellstar Health System’s closure of nearby Atlanta Medical Center.
Bibb County helped fund care for those in need at what is now the Atrium Health Navicent for decades, but stopped funding in 2018 due to budget issues. The hospital reported nearly $80 million in uncompensated care in 2021.
“We have a sort of moral argument to make, it seems to us that we have been providing services to the county, the county is entitled to support us in the form of financial assistance for needy care services and other services we provide to the community make available,” said Ken Banks, attorney at Atrium Health Navicent and Secretary of the Hospitals Board.
According to the latest data, Atrium Health Navicent raised more than $9 million from the state’s Indigent Care Trust Fund in 2018 and 2019. This fund helps hospitals recoup some of the cost of uncompensated care.
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Democrats claim that Georgia could alleviate the problem if it expanded the state’s Medicaid health insurance program to include most uninsured adults. While Republican Gov. Brian Kemp wants a partial expansion, that would only cover some people who work, are in school, or do community service.
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