May 29, 2013

Senator Tony Guglielmo (R-Stafford) speaking at the Johnson Memorial Medical Center press conference on May 23, 2013 as hospital officials and Stafford delegation look on.

Stafford, CT – Facing devastating cuts to their operation, administrators from Johnson Memorial Medical Center pleaded with state legislators and the governor to rethink a proposed budget that would leave a chilling effect throughout Connecticut. On Thursday, May 23 state delegates representing Johnson Memorial answered their call.

During a press conference, state Reps. Penny Bacchiochi (R-Somers) and Christopher Davis (R-Ellington), and state Sens. John A. Kissel (R-Enfield) and Tony Guglielmo (R-Stafford) told their constituents and the hospital’s nearly 500 employees in the surrounding community that they were behind them, supporting the hospital, and working to protect it against the harmful budget.

“The proposed budget, if enacted, would essentially put Johnson Memorial on life support,” Sen. Kissel (R-Enfield) said. “The impact would be very detrimental for Johnson and for hospitals across Connecticut. We continue to do everything we can to protect this regional asset and its many jobs. The public can really help our cause by calling their elected officials and the governor as soon as possible.”

“My mother is a 32-year volunteer at Johnson Memorial Hospital. My daughter is a registered nurse at a hospital. Not funding these hospitals properly will have a ripple effect in many ways. Not only will families face losing their local hospital, but people will lose jobs. Some of these hospitals may not be able to afford the cuts which would mean shutting down,” said Sen. Guglielmo. “The way I see it government has three duties; public safety, public education and public health. To deny these hospitals help means we are ignoring our duty. I urge people who are concerned to find out who your state representative and state senator are and explain to them how you feel about these cuts. Then hold them accountable for how they vote.”

“We’re going to work hard to ensure these budget cuts don’t happen,” Rep. Bacchiochi said. “Johnson Memorial impacts all of us. It contributes so much to our area, and the governor’s proposal is detrimental to the staff and administrators of the hospital. Too much is at stake with these proposed cuts.”

“It is important for our constituents and our colleagues in the General Assembly to know that we stand with our community hospitals to protect the essential care and services they provide to so many of our state’s residents,” said Rep. Davis. “These cuts will mean less jobs and reduced services in our community when we need them the most.”

In December 2012, faced with a current-year deficit, the legislature worked on adjustments to the Governor’s Deficit Mitigation Plan. The largest part of the plan was a reduction in funding to hospitals.

Last year, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed cutting hospitals by $113 million. Republicans fought during negotiations to reduce that cut by $10 million– to $103 million. In his proposed budget for FY 2014-15, Gov. Malloy has proposed cuts of $207.4 million and $343.1 million in each of the fiscal years, respectively. Cuts are applied to the state’s Disproportionate Share – Hospital (DSH) program, as well as Medicaid.

Johnson Memorial, which contributes an estimated $119 million to the local and state economy, will suffer a $3,435,724 cut under the governor’s proposal. The hospital currently boasts 460 jobs within its walls, and an additional 470 in the community.

In a span of just four years, hospitals have gone from gaining $50 million in FY12 to losing $268 million in FY15. What started as a mechanism to help the state and hospitals has turned out to be a tax increase with the state retaining almost all of the tax revenue instead of returning it to hospitals.

In addition, hospitals will begin seeing reductions in federal Medicare dollars starting next year.