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Malloy’s Budget Cuts to Harm State Medical Care

In an op-ed piece in the Hartford Courant, a physician decries the governor’s budget cuts to medical care in the state. He comments on another doctor’s letter describing the cuts and their results which appeared in the New London Day.

“…The proposed budget’s impact on health care is either extremely cynical or extremely ill-advised (bordering on incompetent),” wrote Constantine Manthous, in an op-ed column.

The Chief Executive Officer of Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, Bruce Cummings, wrote the letter to the New London Day.

Manthous summarizes some of Cummings remarks in the Courant:

“…The governor proposes reducing hospital support by $650 million over the next three years. The governor justifies these cuts by presuming that hospitals will enjoy a windfall when the uninsured and under-insured (roughly 500,000 by the governor’s estimate) are able to buy insurance through exchanges or receive Medicaid under the health care act.”

But, since Medicaid pays only a small percentage of the real cost of medical care, Manthous writes, hospitals will have to absorb an increase of between 50 and 100 percent of Medicaid patients. Hospitals, which already are in debt, will suffer all the more, he claims.

Manthous writes that the notion that Medicaid patients receive a reasonable standard of care is patently untrue. He describes a paper he wrote evaluating Medicaid care in Connecticut’s teaching clinics. A third of these patients care is substandard, he says.

He gives the example of a 40-year-old Medicaid patient who had to unnecessarily use a wheelchair for 10 years because Medicaid funds were lacking to pay for hip repair surgery.

The op ed asserts that when Medicaid funds are too little, quality of care will suffer by increasing nurse-to-patient ratios and hospital safety programs will suffer. “Every hospital leader in the state would agree that his [Malloy’s] cuts will impact the quality and safety of care provided in our hospitals,” he writes.

While the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] intended that more people would have health care, if the governor’s plans are realized, “it will have the opposite effect, binding more citizens to an underfunded Medicaid system of substandard care.

“This will affect everyone else because hospitals will have no choice but to cut all but essential services.”

Dr. Manthous, who resides in Camden, is associate director of critical care services at the Hospital of Central Connecticut and an associate clinical professor of medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine.