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Doyle makes hospital tax pitch, rumblings it may die

Gov. Jim Doyle made another pitch Monday for his proposed hospital tax - amid growing talk that state Assembly Republicans will succeed in killing it.

The new tax is part of a plan by Democrats to put the state budget back into balance, amid lower tax revenues caused by the economic slowdown.

Hospitals would get an extra $450 million in federal Medicaid funds since the state would spend more to treat Medicaid patients.

Doyle says Washington is basically saying, "Come and take the money," and it's hard to understand why the state shouldn't do it.

GOP Assembly leaders say it'll drive up health care costs. They say hospitals will simply pass the tax onto their paying customers and those with private insurance while using the extra Medicaid money to cover the government's refusal to pay the full costs for those patients.

Hospitals support the new tax saying it would be their first Medicaid increase in years. Businesses have also gotten behind it.

Doyle admits the continued opposition by the 52 Assembly Republicans would be enough to kill the new tax which Doyle failed to get into last year's state budget.