Wamp Took the Pledge, But What Is the Downside?

It's not inconceivable that Wamp's MED pledge might be misplaced pandering

Last week, Republican Gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp did something no other candidate has done, took the pledge to “return to the Regional Medical Center all federal funds received as a direct result of compensated medical care rendered by the Med”. (source)

The Commercial Appeal has an article in this morning’s paper that notes the implications of that action could send ripples across the state and actually hurt The MED more. From the article:

Ritz and some county officials contend the state shortchanges The Med by about $50 million a year in federal Medicaid/TennCare money the state receives as a result of the hospital’s high rates of unreimbursed care.

The federal government counts unreimbursed care at The Med and other hospitals as “certified public expenditures” in the complicated funding formula for Medicaid and sends money to Tennessee to cover about two-thirds of it.

Surprisingly, that federal money generates even more federal matching funds on a 2-to-1 basis — but only if it’s put into the general TennCare program and not sent directly to CPE hospitals like The Med, TennCare Chief Financial Officer Scott Pierce said Friday.

Diverting the $50 million from TennCare to The Med would cut overall federal funding to the program by $150 million, he said.

“If that pledge were carried out, we would either have to cut expenditures in the rest of the TennCare program … so hospital reimbursement rates would drop, or the General Assembly could decide to raise revenue from other sources,” Pierce said. “This debate does not make a whole lot of sense from our perspective.

“You certainly can do it but it would hurt hospitals in the aggregate and I believe it would hurt The Med in the long run.”

As much as West Tennessee in general, and Shelby County in particular need the MED to remain a viable institution, we don’t need to do it at the exclusion of other institutions across the state.

If executing this pledge actually takes $150m out of the state system, then that would be the effect. Ultimately taking that much money out of the system will not only hurt The MED and other public hospitals across the state, but also private hospitals that receive reimbursement from the system.

There is no question that the inequities of the current funding scenario have hurt The MED, but just like the phrase from the Hypocratic Oath any solution should follow the maxim primum non nocere, translated “first, do no harm”.

1 comment for “Wamp Took the Pledge, But What Is the Downside?

  1. May 25, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Zack Wamp is a Republican. So he’s either an idiot, or he’s pandering because that’s all they are.

    He’ll pander for votes on sensitive issues, but he will never deliver. He’s a Republican, how could one possibly believe that he would ever do the right thing for the people?

    Wamp is just another good reason to vote for McWherter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *