A Statehouse study committee declined to make a policy recommendation Friday to address a hospital payment issue triggered when Indiana children covered by Medicaid receive trauma or neonatal emergency care from health providers located in another state.
Instead, the General Assembly's Interim Study Committee on Fiscal Policy decided simply to forward a summary of the testimony it heard on the issue for other lawmakers to consider as they craft proposals for new state laws ahead of the 2020 legislative session.
Under current law, Indiana Medicaid pays out-of-state hospitals significantly less to care for Hoosier children compared to the rates it pays Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis for the exact same services.
Dr. John Cunningham, physician-in-chief at the University of Chicago's Comer Children's Hospital, told the panel in August that the difference amounted to more than $4 million at his hospital just last year.
He said nearly all Hoosier children treated at Comer hail from Northwest Indiana, since the Chicago hospital is just 8 miles from the state line and getting to Riley requires a three-hour drive.
Cunningham said Comer has no plans to close its doors to Region children. But the hospital also struggles to cover its costs due to the low reimbursement rates Indiana Medicaid pays out-of-state hospitals, he said.
Earlier this year, the Indiana House approved legislation that would have established a pilot full-payment program just at Comer Children's Hospital.
However, it faltered in the Senate due to concerns about the need to treat Medicaid payments to all out-of-state hospitals equally.