OP-ED | Shaking the Foundation of Connecticut Hospitals
The proposed state budget currently under consideration by our legislature risks the high-quality care for patients that Connecticut’s hospitals provide — it would require painful cuts in healthcare services, including mental health, and in jobs.
The deep cuts proposed are more than dollars and cents. If you have ever been a hospital patient or expect that someday you might be one, this issue is personal.
Our hospitals do so much more than provide inpatient and emergency care, 24 hours a day, to all who need it. They offer free and low-cost preventive health services. They run programs to teach us how to stay healthy. They are critical to emergency preparedness plans. They are also the economic lifeblood of their communities, providing jobs and supporting the local and state economies through the purchase of supplies, food, equipment, and much more.
These types of hospital services are in jeopardy if hospitals are not adequately funded. Families who depend on low-cost preventive healthcare may find those programs more limited or gone. New technology to treat illness and disease may be out of reach.
Moreover, funding cuts and higher taxes on hospitals, coupled with a proposed reduction impacting community providers, would also shred what remains of the mental health safety net — at the very time Connecticut residents are demanding improvements to the mental health system.
All Connecticut hospitals treat adults and children with mental health conditions. Proposed cuts to mental health treatment will tax the state’s mental health system severely and intensify the already extreme burden on hospital Emergency Departments. Our most vulnerable children and adults will suffer.
The proposed budget would expand taxes on hospitals, cut reimbursement rates for the care they deliver, withhold revenue that had been earmarked for hospitals, and cut millions in grants to fund mental health treatment for adults and children.
Cuts, taxes, and regulatory obstacles are not the way to improve a hospital’s ability to heal. Patients deserve and are counting on better.
To our legislators, we ask you to stop and re-examine the healthcare environment in our state, and take action to sustain it. This means not making further cuts to hospital funding. It means phasing out the hospital tax instead of expanding it. It means preserving the property tax exemption for not-for-profit hospitals. It means funding mental health services.
To members of the public who rely on our hospitals to keep them alive and healthy, we ask that you take a moment to let your legislators know you support healthcare in Connecticut. You can do this by visiting www.CareWeCanCountOn.org and selecting “Take Action.”
We are at a critical juncture in the evolution of healthcare in Connecticut. Hospitals provide lifesaving care that is essential to patients and communities, but the foundation of our care is cracking dangerously. Adequate funding and support is crucial to strengthening this foundation once again.
Jennifer Jackson is CEO of the Connecticut Hospital Association, which represents the interests of the state’s hospitals on key healthcare issues. More than 140 hospital and health-related organizations are members of CHA.
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