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Hospitals to be more aggressive in opposing legislative cuts

It’s no secret that big cuts may be in store for hospitals at the Legislature, particularly in the House and governor’s budget proposals. And lobbyists for other interest groups have been expecting the hospitals to try to preserve their state allocations by suggesting other places to make cuts.

Now the hospitals appear to be making a move, according to the Mankato Free Press.

Representatives of some big and small hospitals will be at the Capitol today to detail the impact of proposed budget cuts on their facilities, the paper says.

Dr. Greg Kutcher, of Immanuel St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, will tell of a nearly $10 million impact on the hospitals in Mankato, Waseca, St. James and Springfield over two years. And Lori Wightman of the New Ulm Medical Center will talk about the estimated $2 million blow to her facility.

Wightman and Kutcher aren’t asking to be spared when they talk to lawmakers, instead asking that all aspects of the state budget share evenly in the cuts required.

“We’ve never said ‘Don’t cut us,’ ” Kutcher said. “We’ve said, ‘Make it fair.’ “

The DFL-dominated Senate has essentially taken that approach, aiming to make across-the-board spending cuts while also raising taxes. Pawlenty, eschewing state tax hikes, has exempted K-12 education, veterans programs and public safety programs from deep cuts — making for even more substantial reductions in the rest of the state budget.

The representatives of the hospitals will be talking to House leaders — and the media — at this morning’s briefing. It’s part of a conscious effort to be more aggressive in getting their message out.

“As an industry, we haven’t been as vocal as education or cities or counties,” Wightman said. “We, as an industry, are just learning to be more effective in telling our story.”

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/22/2009 - 06:01 pm.

    The governor’s planned cuts to emergency room visits normally paid by the state make me wonder YET AGAIN why professional associations like those representing hospitals and other providers are not fighting for a universal health care system like HR-676 (national) or SF118/HF135 (Minnesota).

    The Minnesota Health Plan in particular would be fair to providers because an independent management board consisting of 15 members appointed by elected county boards would control the purse strings. Neither the governor nor his anti-tax supporters in the legislature could deny hospitals or dentists or mental health or home health workers or any other providers fair reimbursement for their work. And no Minnesota resident would be denied care as so often happens now.

    This is not “government run” health care or “socialized medicine,” and neither is John Conyers’ HR 676. It is our wise use of government to improve health outcomes while saving billions of dollars.

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