November 4, 2015

Hospital lobby launches ad campaign opposing funding cuts

A screenshot of the CHA's new ad campaign against recent Medicaid cuts.

The Connecticut Hospital Association today launched a new website, www.StopTheCutsNow.org, and unveiled a TV, radio, and digital campaign opposing Gov. Malloy's recent Medicaid cuts.

The campaign details the anticipated impacts of these cuts, calls on legislators and the public to intervene, and urges Malloy to restore the funding.

"After five years of cuts and taxes totaling more than $1.3 billion to hospitals in Connecticut, we have reached the breaking point and have no choice but to fight back against the Governor's dangerous and deeply damaging actions," CHA's CEO Jennifer Jackson said in a news release. "Governor Malloy's cuts have already cost healthcare jobs and forced hospitals to cut back critical services. Enough is enough."

Malloy announced a $63.3 million Medicaid cut in September, which costs hospitals just under $200 million when federal matching funds are included. The following month, after outcry from hospitals and lawmakers, Malloy's budget office said it would walk back more than $14 million of the cuts - but only those that go to smaller hospitals.

The bulk of the hospital Medicaid cuts were in the form of three quarterly payments that were cancelled. Last month, Malloy indicated the state may withhold the first quarter's payments as well, according to media reports.

In all, the CHA pegs the annual impact to hospitals at $240 million.

The Medicaid funding Malloy cut is needed to support the healthcare costs of one-in-five Connecticut residents, CHA said, adding that the cuts are increasing cost, reducing access, and hurting state and local economies.

Malloy, who recently brought lawmakers back to the negotiating table to reassess the current fiscal year budget that is still $118 million in the red, has met criticism of the cuts by pointing to budget surpluses and executive salaries at larger hospitals.

The budget office noted recently that Connecticut health systems' revenue exceeded expenses by more than $916 million last year, up 26 percent from the year prior.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Malloy criticized the association and its ad campaign, both of which he said are indirectly subsidized by public money provided to hospitals. He also continued to hammer at hospital finances.

"We're not talking about entrepreneurs, we're not talking about publicly traded companies," Malloy said.

The governor noted that the recent cuts are not to Medicaid reimbursement rates for providers, but rather come from a supplemental Medicaid program for hospitals. He also said Connecticut is not alone in taxing its hospitals.

"The [CHA] ad doesn't mention that," he said.

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