Hospitals say “Property Tax” plan endangers public health

Lawrence & Memorial Hospital (WTNH / Tina Detelj)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Layoffs, longer wait times, and higher deductibles, that’s what Connecticut’s hospitals are predicting if Governor Dannel Malloy‘s plan to increase taxes on hospitals is approved.

The hospitals are saying previous “Hospital Taxes” have already put a stranglehold on the state’s health care system.

There are 29 hospitals in Connecticut employing close to 100,000 people, caring for nearly 400,000 patients each year, over 1.5 million in Emergency Rooms.  Many of those health care workers and their bosses jammed the Capitol Wednesday telling lawmakers to kill a plan to increase taxes on hospitals because it would strangle hospital budgets and endanger the public.

“When you have a bad fracture when when you’re in a car accident; when you have a bleed in your brain and you need a neurosurgeon, an ophthalmologist, and even an anesthesiologist, in some cases they may not be there,” said Dr. Dan Freess, an Emergency Room physician at Mid State Medical Center in Meriden.

In February, Governor Malloy proposed allowing the cites to impose “Property Taxes” on hospitals for the first time in history saying the revenue would help struggling cities and that the state would increase Medicaid payments to the hospitals to make up the difference.

“The hospitals would actually receive more than they’re paying in taxes on Property Taxes,” said Malloy on Wednesday.

Like much of the public, hospital administrators don’t trust state government.

“Experience causes us to question whether those funds would be sent to hospitals,” said Connecticut Hospital Association C.E.O. Jennifer Jackson.

The Speaker of the House, Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin) would not proclaim the Hospital Property Tax proposal dead.

“I’m trying to explore other possibilities to do the same thing; have investments into our cities, (and) have hospitals take advantage of all the reimbursements from the federal government that they can. How that shakes out to be, I’m just not sure,” said Aresimowicz.

Republicans in the House are pledging to work toward the same goal.

“Look forward to, on behalf of our caucus, working with the House Democrats in making sure that we craft appropriate proposals that help facilitate hospitals and prevent the taxes that have been proposed,” said House Deputy Minority Leader Rep. Vin Candelora (R-North Branford).

The Governor’s office says the hospitals grossed $11 billion last year and after all expenses had $870 million left over.

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