BRISTOL - Gov. Dannel Malloyâ€™s proposed budget revisions that raise the hospital provider tax and rely on federal Medicaid matching funds to balance the state budget has prompted Bristol Hospital to launch a letter writing campaign in opposition.
Fridayâ€™s revised budget proposal increases the existing provider tax on hospitals first imposed in 2011. It asks hospitals to pay $274 million in new tax revenue for the 2017-18 fiscal year, and $299 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year. The tax would increase from 6 percent to 8 percent under the proposal, according to the governorâ€™s office.
The money would be returned to hospitals because the state would use it to qualify for more federal Medicaid reimbursement than is has for the past six years.
However, â€śitâ€™s also a gamble for the governor to think Medicaid payments will increase when the federal government is talking about cutting them,â€ť said state Rep. Whit Betts, R-Bristol.
The proposal would increase Bristol Hospitalâ€™s tax to more than $8 million a year, confirmed Director of Public Relations and Marketing Chris Boyle, who didnâ€™t have the exact figures.
In a message sent Monday morning to employees, board members, physicians, volunteers and the community of Bristol Hospital, Kurt Barwis, president and CEO of the hospital, opposed the proposed budget and asked all to join a campaign to write letters to state and federal officials asking them not to support the proposed budget.
â€śGov. Dannel Malloy released a new budget proposal that would dramatically increase the hospital tax, rely on federal Medicaid matching funds to balance the state budget and repeal the right of all health care providers to appeal to a court of law, certain decisions on Medicaid rates made by the Department of Social Services.
â€śIt is imperative that we remind legislators that Connecticutâ€™s patients, communities and hospitals are relying on them to protect health care. We are out of time and need to act now. Governor Malloyâ€™s latest proposal is catastrophic to all Connecticut hospitals,â€ť said Barwis.
The proposal was denounced by Betts; state Rep. Cara Pavalock-Dâ€™Amato, R-Bristol; state Rep. William Petit Jr., R-Plainville; and state Sen. Henri Martin, R-Bristol.
â€śSmall nonprofit hospitals like Bristol Hospital are struggling to stay afloat. But instead of throwing them a life preserver, Governor Malloy hands them an anchor,â€ť Martin said.
Pavalock-Dâ€™Amato said, â€śIn a community like Bristol, where our hospital is already operating at a loss, where does the governor think administrators will get the money for more taxes? The hospital is Bristolâ€™s second-largest employer. These people need their jobs.â€ť
â€śOur hospitals played this game of three-card monte with Governor Malloy before. Just like any other gambling operation, the house always wins. The money never seems to get where it was promised to go,â€ť Betts said.
Petit commented, â€śThe Connecticut Hospital Association says the tax is costing patients $650 more each. How much more will this tax increase cost them? What does the governor expect to happen to these patients when they can no longer afford the care they need?â€ť
The CHA also released a press release opposing the proposal.
Jennifer Jackson, CEO of the CHA, said, â€śWeâ€™ve been here before, and unfortunately are here again. Governor Malloyâ€™s revised proposal would hike the hospital tax, increasing health care costs, threatening the quality of care on which we rely, and dramatically harming our ability to serve the community. Connecticut hospitals strongly oppose it.
â€śWe need to work together to address the long-term structural changes necessary to provide fiscal stability and improve health care in Connecticut. As they have done in the past, now more than ever, we need legislators to stand up for patients and oppose Gov. Malloyâ€™s hospital tax hike.â€ť
The House and possibly Senate are scheduled to convene and consider the proposal on Sept. 14, to discuss the proposal.
Lorenzo Burgio can be reached at email@example.com or at 860-973-5088.
More information on the hospitalâ€™s campaign can be found at, http://cqrcengage.com/bristolhospital/app/write-a-letter?2&engagementId=394753