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Move afoot to fight cuts to Connecticut hospitals

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 2, 2013 at 10:30 am •  Published: March 2, 2013
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Legislative efforts are under way to soften the blow of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposed budget cuts to hospitals, which officials at smaller Connecticut medical centers predict will be financially devastating.

Sen. Tony Guglielmo, a Republican from Stafford Springs, said he will urge members of the General Assembly's caucus of rural legislators next week to work together to stop the Democratic governor's plan to cut state aid by $208 million the first year of his $43.8 billion budget, and by $342.4 million the second year.

Guglielmo, whose district includes the Johnson Memorial Medical Center in Stafford Springs, said he worries that the state's smaller hospitals won't be able to absorb the deep reductions in state aid earmarked to mostly cover uninsured patients. Such funding was previously cut more than $100 million in December during a special deficit-reduction session of the General Assembly.

"When you start hitting them with all these cuts, it makes you wonder if they're really going to be able to survive," Guglielmo said.

There appears to be bipartisan support for helping the hospitals this session. Asked whether the legislature's majority Democratic leadership was working to address the hospitals' concerns as they try to craft a final budget agreement that Malloy will sign, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said: "We're trying. We're trying."

Several Democrats, whose districts include smaller hospitals, are sponsoring a bill that attempts to restore the loss of funding for the uninsured. The bill is awaiting action by the legislature's Public Health Committee.

Rep. Danny Rovero, D-Killingly, said he worries about potential job losses at Day Kimball Healthcare in Putnam, which is facing an $8 million cut over two years. That's in addition to a $3.8 million cut it sustained in December.

"Day Kimball Hospital employs some 1,400 people," Rovero said. "In the rural northeast section of the state, any potential job losses as a result of the proposed hospital budget cuts would have a terrible ripple effect."

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