April 11, 2013

CT hospitals, Malloy Admin. trade barbs over budget cuts

More than 600 Connecticut hospital employees descended on the state Capitol Thursday to protest $550 million in state funding cuts proposed under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's two-year budget plan.

The day, which was organized by the Connecticut Hospital Association, began with a press conference featuring patients, caregivers, and legislators, and was followed by meetings with legislators.

Malloy's two-year, $44 billion budget plan cuts state aid to hospitals by $208 million in the first year and $342 million in the second year, according to the Associated Press.

Jennifer Jackson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Hospital Association, said the cuts would hurt patients, hospitals, communities, and the economy.

"There is no way around it – cuts of this magnitude will impact patient care, shutter programs and services, put people out of work in hospitals and communities across the state, and lay an added healthcare cost burden on businesses, resulting in higher premiums for workers," said Jackson. "We are here today to warn legislators about what will happen if the administration is allowed to tax hospitals, and use money intended for healthcare purposes to balance the budget instead."

The Malloy administration says that as Medicaid expands and health insurance exchanges are put in place, the number of uninsured will decrease in a few years. As a result, uncompensated care by hospitals will shrink, AP reports.

"The simple truth is that hospitals have benefited from extraordinary increases in state funding over the last decade, especially in the few years since Connecticut embarked on Medicaid expansion," said state budget director Ben Barnes. "In fact, their funding has increased from $712 million in 2003 to $1.75 billion this year, an increase of 245 percent."

The administration says the state is still spending $1.6 billion despite the cuts.

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