Hospital urges lawmakers to scale back health care cutsAs lawmakers try to cure the state’s budget woes, the Douglas County Hospital hopes that health care won’t take the brunt of it.
As lawmakers try to cure the state’s budget woes, the Douglas County Hospital hopes that health care won’t take the brunt of it.
Bill Flaig, administrator of the Douglas County Hospital, sent an e-mail to state Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, and Representative Mary Ellen Otremba, DFL-Long Prairie, last week, stating that Governor Tim Pawlenty’s proposed budget for Health and Human Services is “unacceptable.”
Totaling $857 million, the cuts would seriously damage the state’s already strained and fragile health care system, diminish access to care and jeopardize health care infrastructure, according to Flaig and the Minnesota Hospital Association. “I think providers are willing to do their share but what is being proposed is disproportionate and unfair to all Minnesota health care providers,” Flaig said. “We are very concerned about the future of Douglas County Hospital and the employees who work tirelessly to care for patients who need our help.”
Flaig listed his major concerns:
•The governor intends to completely eliminate all adults from the MinnesotaCare program. These individuals will still need care and will end up in the hospital emergency room without the ability to pay.
•Over the past few months, Douglas County Hospital’s bad debt has risen from $40,000 per month to $120,000 per month. This bad debt is concentrated in the emergency department.
•The governor’s budget proposal intends to eliminate the Health Care Access Fund while keeping the provider tax in place. This amounts to a tax on public hospitals that will be used to finance the general functions of the state government.
•Hospitals have again been disproportionately targeted for cuts.
•Despite receiving $1.8 billion in federal stimulus money for health care in Minnesota, the governor intends to use these dollars for other purposes.
“We implore you not to cut deeply into the state’s Health and Human Services budget as proposed by the governor,” Flaig said in his e-mail to local lawmakers. “Placing the state budget cuts on the backs of hospitals is reprehensible. Please act with your conscience and reject the deep cuts being proposed.”