Keating signs bill creating the Community Hospital Authority

Tuesday, June 4th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

When Tulsa hospitals provide care for people who can't afford it, patients who have insurance end up footing the bill. But in other parts of the state that burden is less.

Tuesday, Governor Keating signed a new law aimed at giving Tulsa hospitals their fair share of help with uninsured patients. News on Six anchor Scott Thompson says for Tulsa lawmakers this new law isn't just about shoring up local hospitals or taking care of uninsured patients, but bringing fairness to state funding.

State Representative Russ Roach: "And when that burden is being paid for in Oklahoma City by state dollars and its not being paid in Tulsa something has to be corrected." Sister M. Therese Gottschalk: "Where we right off over 50% and collect a lot less than 50%. So it's kind of a system that has seen its days and its just going to be collapsing."

Lawmakers say this isn't the case in Oklahoma City, where the state helps cover the costs of the uninsured. The bill Governor Keating signed off on creates the Community Hospital Authority. Its role is to make Tulsa hospitals eligible for matching state funds. State Senator Jerry Smith: "Basically it'll try to raise funds to match money so that we can get more money from the state through the Medicare program."

Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune: "This is the initial step towards having more equity in funding for indigent care. And our hospitals do a great job with indigent care but they need the states help in making sure that happens." It's not just the hospitals that benefit, but their paying patients, as well.

Roach: "You relieve the financial burden on the hospitals so they don’t have to make those drastic decisions and hopefully you also relieve some of the burden off the private paying patients."