Friday, May 31, 2013
State budget crisis jeopardizes health care
May 31, 2013
Two years ago the State of Connecticut turned to hospitals to solve its growing financial crisis with passage of a hospital bed tax that had a damaging impact on Greenwich Hospital.
As much as things change, they stay the same. Once again, hospitals are being asked to bear the brunt of draconian cuts even as the state's budget is proposed to increase by nearly 10 percent. Somehow, responsibility for solving the deficit has become ours, and it's no exaggeration to suggest the state budget is being balanced on the backs of hospitals.
Last year, Greenwich Hospital took a huge hit to the tune of $8 million, which led us to cut programs and lay off employees, and this year, just in time for the holidays, we got a call two days before Christmas when the state said it was taking another million, and now, the coup de grace -- we face even greater cuts with the latest budget plan.
There was little sympathy in Hartford for what we had to do at Greenwich Hospital, and we were accused of thinking that it was "more important to serve surf and turf than it is to implement common-sense cost controls." It was a sad comment, but it makes you wonder -- when it comes to cost controls, what's going on in Hartford?
To pull the state out of its crisis this time, the governor has proposed unprecedented hospital cuts of $550 million over the next two years. That number is in addition to the $103 million that was slashed from hospital funding for the current budget.
What's so troubling is that the state gives away some $860 million a year in tax breaks, credits, loans and grants to keep businesses here and attract new companies. Attracting new economic activity is a laudable goal, but not to the detriment of the state's 30 hospitals, which are responsible for contributing $20 billion to Connecticut's economy.
The state's hospitals generate more than 110,000 jobs and $10.8 billion in annual payroll, not to mention the goods and services that we purchase and funds that are dedicated to building projects and equipment. Why would anyone want to jeopardize that?
We in health care were told the last time around that we all had to "sacrifice." Unfortunately, the ones who will sacrifice the most this time around are the frail elderly, Medicaid recipients, adults and children with special needs and the mentally ill.
It's also worth considering the tumultuous times the health care industry is confronting. Between the proposed state budget and health care reform, we are being squeezed to maintain viability. Every hospital is looking for efficiencies because of the need to control costs as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is implemented.
Our goal is to be efficient without sacrificing safety and excellence.
Health care is very personal, and the citizens of Connecticut expect high-quality service. Unfortunately, we may be forced to close more programs and downsize the workforce again. If this budget proposal is allowed to pass, hospitals in Connecticut will not be able to deliver the care our patients are accustomed to receiving.
Greenwich Hospital has been recognized statewide and nationally for its excellent care, its patient satisfaction and its safety, and every time the state cuts our funding, those measures of excellence are threatened.
The truth of the matter is that health care in Connecticut is in the cross hairs of the proposed budget, and the General Assembly must have the integrity and courage to avert a crisis this spending plan would create.
Frank A. Corvino is president & CEO of Greenwich Hospital.
Read more: http://www.greenwichtime.com/opinion/article/State-budget-crisis-jeopardizes-health-care-4562940.php#ixzz2Ut12nHKo