The Bexar County Hospital District has requested a tax rate for the coming year with no increase in the tax rate itself. But the health system is counting on rising local property values to sustain its budget over the coming year.
The hospital district, now known as University Health System, submitted a proposal to Bexar County commissioners with a tax rate that is unchanged from last year.
The 2015 budget is prepared after the 2014 tax rate has been set. But University Health System president and CEO George Hernandez said the challenge is not estimating the tax rate needed to support the budget.
"We do it in advance and then we work to make sure that we live within our budget," Hernandez said. "But the challenges are the continuous cuts in reimbursements at the state and federal level. We're seeing in the neighborhood of $25 million in reduction in reimbursements."
But Hernandez said a big problem is the state’s Medicaid reimbursement policy.
"The Medicaid reimbursement in the state of Texas is 51 cents on the dollar," he said. "The federal government allows them to pay the whole dollar, but the state legislation has been very conservative and it really does not pay any hospital or any physician what is permitted."
The new University Hospital Sky Tower is an estimated $35 million cost increase, but Hernandez said the hospital system found ways to improve operating costs by reducing energy and other strategies. UHS proposed a tax rate of 27.6 cent per $100 valuation, which will mean a homeowner’s tax for the hospital district will increase at the same rate the home’s value increased in the last year. The unchanged tax rate is expected to yield $323 million, or an additional $20 million for next year’s University Health System budget.
Bexar County Commissioners will hold two public hearings on the tax rate before taking a vote on Sept. 16.