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Hospital group to announce plans over lawsuit it filed against state

Senate President Steve Pierce (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

The CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association is holding a press briefing with Senate President Steve Pierce today about the lawsuit it filed against the state over cuts in reimbursements to health providers.

“There’s going to be an announcement tomorrow related to the lawsuit,” said Pete Wertheim, a spokesman for the hospital group, who declined to give any further details.

The group’s president, Laurie Liles, is scheduled to appear with Pierce during the media briefing.

The association last year sued the state to halt a 5 percent cut in payment rates to providers.

Lawmakers had approved the cut as part of the state’s budget-balancing act. It was estimated to save the state about $95 million.

The federal government gave Arizona permission to reduce the amount it pays to providers for services provided under Medicaid.

The hospital association had cited federal law that says Medicaid payments to hospitals must be “consistent with efficiency, economy, and quality of care, and sufficient to ensure that beneficiaries have equal access to services.”

The association had estimated that the rate cut, along with four previous years of rate freezes and payment reductions, meant payments to hospitals will fall by 33 percent below actual costs.

The association also said uncompensated care in the last quarter alone rose by more than $25 million compared to the same period last year.

Liles earlier said previous cuts already forced some hospitals to eliminate services, reduce staff and raise the rates that are charged to commercial health plans.

The rate cut became effective retroactively to October.

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