State Sen. Tony Hwang: Will the hospitals be heard?

November 3, 2015

This op-ed first appeared in the Danbury News-Times

By State Senator Tony Hwang

Searching for ways to fix the state’s broken budget, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has opened his office doors to Republicans and Democrats to gather ideas.

Better late than never.

The state’s budget hole grows larger by the day. Bipartisan solutions are desperately needed if Connecticut wants to emerge from what the governor’s budget chief calls our “permanent fiscal crisis.”

A special session at the State Capitol can bring about structural, sustainable budget changes to put our state back on a positive trajectory. The Band-Aid approach to state budgeting is a proven failure.

We should also restore the governor’s devastating cuts to services for the sick, the elderly, and the disadvantaged.

During the budget talks, will the governor and majority Democrats remember the words of hospital leaders in our region?

Here’s what those leaders are saying, and doing:

Bridgeport Hospital President and CEO William M. Jennings says “these staggering cuts undermine the ability of hospitals to care for all patients, not only those covered by Medicaid who are among the state’s sickest and most vulnerable residents.” Jennings says the cuts “would leave Bridgeport Hospital virtually powerless to reinvest funds in growing and sustaining healthcare programs and services needed by our patients. This is reckless behavior and not supported by any rational policy.”

St. Vincent’s Health Services President and CEO Stuart G. Marcus says the cuts to services are “in conflict with the principles of the Affordable Care Act, which at its core aims to increase access to high quality, safe healthcare and improve the health of populations served, all at an affordable cost.”

The Western Connecticut Health Network is comprised of Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, and Norwalk Hospital. Network President and CEO John M. Murphy recently stated that “I will now, with these cuts, begin to operate each of my three hospitals at a loss, meaning that whatever reserves are available for me to invest in the future, I now have to take from to keep current operations going. Inevitably, we do limit access for all kinds of people, particularly the vulnerable, the low-income patients who will have a harder time accessing the system.”

Stamford Hospital recently informed its staff that it plans to lay off 20 employees, leave vacant 113 open positions and make cuts to its community outreach programming and local clinics.

Greenwich Hospital President Norman Roth noted that “unfortunately, there will be hospitals across the state that will default on their charters because of this. It’s not a healthy state for one of the most compassionate industries.”

Now is the time for all Connecticut residents to ratchet up the pressure on lawmakers.

Have your legislators heard the alarm bells? Do they agree with Connecticut Hospital Association CEO Jennifer Jackson when she says that “taxing the sick, hospitals and health care is wrong”?

I stand ready to work with the Democrat majorities to cut government spending responsibly while protecting the elderly, the disabled and the disadvantaged.

To find out where your legislator stands, visit .