May 20, 2005
The Granny Tax

How desperate are they in the joint committees to pass something, anything on HB2 and HB3 to the floor of those chambers for a vote? Desperate enough to revive a bad idea from 2001 which is opposed by Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and Governor Perry.

The measure in 2001 would have imposed a monthly $5 a bed fee on nursing homes. The current measure allows the Health and Human Services Commission to develop the fee based on a formula to be paid monthly.

The nursing home industry calls it a "quality assurance fee." For those patients covered by Medicaid — about 70 percent of those in nursing homes — the federal government would pay the fee to the state. The state would then give the money to nursing homes as higher reimbursement rates for care to cover financial losses due to increased operating costs.

Ogden said the fee would provide about $1 billion for nursing homes in Texas over the next two years. The measure has been pushed by House budget writers who have not wanted to increase general taxes to pay for increased reimbursement rates at nursing homes.

For patients not covered by Medicaid, the fee would become part of their basic monthly nursing home bill without being itemized. Additionally, the nursing home would not receive any reimbursement from the state based on the fees from private payors. During the 2001 debate, opponents rapidly tagged the bill with the moniker of the "granny tax."

"It's a more onerous tax now," said Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt, saying the formula would charge nursing home patients almost a third more than the 2001 legislation. "That bill would in effect put a tax on nursing home patients who would get no improvement in care."

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he also opposes the nursing home fee.

"I'm against any tax which specifically targets the elderly and the frail," Dewhurst said.

Hey, if we can tax donuts and beer, I don't see why Grandma should get off scot-free.

Oh, and they're also talking about raising license plate fees. But don't worry, that's not a "tax", so Governor Perry can remain a hero to the Wall Street Journal.

You almost feel sorry for these guys. But then you remember it's their own lack of a coherent ideology on how to pay for desired government services that got them into this fix, and the feeling dissipates. And poor David Dewhurst, stuck herding cats while the clock ticks.

Meanwhile, Governor Rip Van Perry takes a little more not so friendly fire for his "leadership" on this issue.

Tina Peyton of Dallas, representing Texas FreedomWorks, said she hopes negotiators will reach a tax plan that does not cut property taxes by overburdening businesses.

Peyton said she appreciates the leadership of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland, but wishes Gov. Rick Perry would “inject himself” more into the tax debate.

Visiting with reporters Wednesday, Perry declined to identify tax ideas that he favors or opposes.

Peyton said Thursday: “It’s time for him to show up.”

Tell him it's a fundraiser. He's sure to show up for that.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 20, 2005 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack

"The nursing home industry calls it a "quality assurance fee."".

In the words of Tom Lehrer, If looks like a tax and walks like a tax and acts like a tax, it's a tax.

Since the Texas Legislature wants to expand gambling , why not tax Bingo parlors to raise money for nursing homes. After all, the demographic is almost the same.

Posted by: William Hughes on May 20, 2005 10:34 AM

QUALITY ASSURANCE FEE!!!! It is a tax!! A tax as though I am buying a luxury such as a yacht or seashore home. We are already stressed financially and emotionally caring for a loved one with a terrible disease for which there is no cure. CONSCIENCE

Posted by: Joe Kubat on May 24, 2005 10:34 AM

Not only did the Governor and Lt Gov guarntee that residents in Texas' Nursing homes wont see 650 million in much need money but he also lowered the rate paid by the by $5 per patient per day. This will close nursing homes by the dozens. The Quality Assurance Fee is paid by the FAcility not by The Resident. It is NOT a tax. The only hope now is that Nursing Home Issues are addressed in the current Special Session. The Texas house and Texas Senate passed this by overwhelming majorities, but Gov Perry and LT Gov Dewhurst took it upon themselves to take it out. Shame on them! There are 1170 nursing homes in Texas serving 90,000 residents and Governor Perry is concerned that 30 of those homes will be treated unfairly because they are private pay and do not receive Medicaid. Once again, the rich benefit while the majority continue to suffer. Is APS ready to on 90,000 new cases when all nursing homes start shutting down. We receive on average $95 a day to provide food, nursing care, activities, transportation, utilities and etc, Gov, Perry is lowering that to $90/day. Howin the world can qulaity care be provided for the elders when the nursing homes they are living in are starting the year off hundreds of millions in hole???

Posted by: Todd Spann on July 4, 2005 1:25 AM

Mr. Spann:
Read the law. For persons not covered by Medicaid, the fee would become part of their basic monthly nursing home bill without being itemized. Additionally, the nursing home would not receive any reimbursement from the state based on the fees from private payors. How can this "fee" not be a tax if neither the resident nor the nursing home benefits from it? I am not rich. I managed my life, career and finances so as to be able to provide for my wife's care.

Posted by: Joe Kubat on July 15, 2005 11:26 PM