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Norwalk's Lavielle: State Budget Cuts Will Hurt Hospitals

State Rep. Gail Lavielle
State Rep. Gail Lavielle Photo Credit: Contributed

WILTON, Conn. -- State Rep. Gail Lavielle, a Republican who represents Wilton, Westport and Norwalk, is blasting the state's recent budget cuts, which she says are hurting hospitals.

On Sept. 18, Gov. Dannel Malloy ordered $103 million in cuts to the state budget. The administration cited downward revisions in projected revenue, due to unexpectedly low tax receipts and stock market weaknesses.

"This looks more like 11th-hour backpedaling on a budget that was unworkable to begin with, and it has caused genuine alarm," Lavielle said.

Two-thirds of the cuts, or $64 million, are reductions in Medicaid spending, which directly affects hospitals.

"Their impact is much greater, however, because the reductions mean a loss of $128 million in federal dollars," she said. "The result is a total loss of $192 million in funding for Connecticut’s hospitals."

She cited cuts that affect the Western Connecticut Health Network, which includes Norwalk, Danbury, and New Milford Hospitals. They will take a $14 million hit, of which $6.3 million falls on Norwalk Hospital alone.

According to John Murphy, CEO of WCHN, the worst consequence is that people who can’t afford basic healthcare won’t seek it, and will “carry their burdens quietly” as their health deteriorates.

The cuts "come while hospitals are already coping with a tax imposed four years ago as part of a scheme to bring more federal Medicaid funding to the state," Lavielle said.

"Although they were supposed to receive a net gain from the arrangement, hospitals have seen their taxes grow exponentially."

Lavielle cited statistics that one of five in Connecticut are on Medicaid, and of those, 25 percent are children.

The Connecticut Hospital Association has said that the new Medicaid cuts will lead to staff reductions, longer wait times for patients, and an inability to invest in low-cost preventive services Medicaid patients need.

"I have joined House and Senate Republican colleagues in calling for a special session to put everything on the table – particularly the state’s labor costs, which represent 35 percent of the budget – to restore the new cuts, and to initiate long-term budget reforms with all due urgency," Lavielle said.

House Minority Leader, Themis Klarides, has asked Malloy to discuss concessions with the state employee unions.

"Nothing could be more timely," she said. "This would be the most direct route toward both establishing a sound, long-term fiscal foundation for Connecticut and ensuring that critical services are preserved."

Lavielle is a member of the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee.

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