Bristol Health launches letter writing campaign opposing Lamont's budget proposal

Published on Wednesday, 24 April 2019 20:17
Written by JUSTIN MUSZYNSKI

@MUSZYNSKIBP

BRISTOL - Bristol Health has launched a letter writing campaign opposing Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposed budget, which hospital officials say will tax Connecticut hospitals more than $900 million.

The campaign, done in conjunction with the Connecticut Hospital Association, kicked off Monday and has generated more than 1,500 electronic letters that have gone to the offices of Lamont, the lieutenant governor, leadership at the Office of Policy and Management and both the state and federal delegation.

“It’s really going well so far,” said Chris Boyle, spokesman for Bristol Health.

“Since we started these letter writing campaigns in 2015, we’ve really beefed up our advocacy,” he continued, saying more than 100,000 letters have been sent in about four years concerning various issues related to the state and the hospital.

According to Bristol Health, the hospital last year was taxed nearly $14 million. Despite an agreement between the governor’s office and state hospital officials in 2017 to cut down and eventually phase out the state hospital tax, Lamont’s budget proposal would not only void that agreement, but it would increase the tax by about $40 million, according to Bristol Health. State hospitals last year paid about $900 million in taxes.

“We very much appreciate the important role hospitals play in our state and within their respective communities,” said David Bednarz, a spokesman for Lamont. “At the same time, the state is facing extremely difficult financial choices in the current biennium. Continued contributions will be required from stakeholders if we are to pass a responsible, balanced budget. The governor’s proposed budget continues the hospital user fee at current levels. We are in this together.”

CEO of CHA Jennifer Jackson said the group opposes Lamont’s budget, but is grateful his administration continues to engage in discussions on this matter.

“We stand by the agreement we reached in 2017 and are opposed to the governor’s budget proposal, which increases the tax on hospitals,” said Jackson. “While we oppose the proposed budget, we are pleased that the administration is participating with us in budget and settlement discussions.”

In 2018, the Medicaid payments to hospitals totaled $2.3 billion. The federal government paid $1.6 billion of that, about 67 percent. According to Bristol Health officials, the state of Connecticut taxed the hospitals $900 million to fund the balance - $150 million more than necessary to help reduce the growing budget deficit.

Bristol Health officials maintain that nonprofit hospitals should not be taxed, saying these taxes have affected Bristol Hospital’s “ability to address community need for access to health care services, replace critical equipment and make needed capital improvements.”

To participate in the letter writing campaign, visit www.BristolHospital.org and follow the advocacy request steps.

Boyle said the hospital in recent years has had a lot of advocacy from local delegation, including state Sen. Henri Martin and state Reps. Cara Pavalock-D’Amato, Whit Betts, William Petit and Chris Ziogas.

“They’re all wonderful,” Boyle said. “They’ve really looked out for us over the last few years. We’re lucky with that.”

Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or jmuszynski@bristolpress.com.



Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Wednesday, 24 April 2019 20:17. Updated: Wednesday, 24 April 2019 20:19.