The state's new Medicaid waiver is unlikely to immediately affect Good Samaritan Hospital in Benton County, which Standard & Poor's Corp. this week affirmed at A, the rating agency said in this week's CreditWeek Municipal.

The rating agency noted that Good Samaritan has applied for participation in the new program, which is designed to expand health insurance coverage to the 120,000 state residents living below the federal poverty line and to reduce the number of medical services covered.

Oregon was recently granted a federal waiver from Medicaid restrictions in order to allow the new program to take effect.

As a result Oregon expects its Medicaid budget to grow by approximately $20 million per year during the five-year trial period.

"It is anticipated that many hospitals will elect to participate in the state's new health-care plan because they will receive reimbursement for patients who were not covered by any plan and had previously had their charges written off as bad debts or charity care," Standard & Poor's said.

But the rating agency said the program could eventually limit financial flexibility among participating hospitals.

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