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Hospital Medicaid payments could be slashed even more

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COLCHESTER –Hospitals received some unwelcome news on Monday.

The Governor’s Budget Office said Monday that hospitals might not receive $63 million in first quarter Medicaid money if the budget isn’t balanced soon.

“Hospitals have already provided care and they should be paid for the care that they have provided,” said Michele Sharp, of the Connecticut Hospital Association.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano just shook his head and said, “Think about what $63 million can do for Medicaid patients. Think about what $63 million can do for the elderly. Think about $63 million can do to allow everyone to access to affordable care.”

But, the governor noted 26 of the 29 hospitals in the state had their best year financially last year.

“Of those 26, the accumulated profits were $916 million,” said Malloy.

But a document released by the Office of Healthcare Access indicates the state is including appropriations to the UConn Health Center for items not exclusively related to patient care. Also, built in to the near $1 billion hospitals profits: the sale of Norwalk Hospital to the Western Connecticut Health Network.

Hospitals say their actual profits were about half of what the governor stated.

“We are, I think, acting in a prudent way, both in the current year and preparing for the budget that would take place on July 1 of next year,” said Malloy

Malloy says over the last three years, Connecticut hospitals have increased their profits by 5 percent, 6 percent and 6 percent, respectively. But, hospitals say much of that profit is reinvested in patient care and the continued ramp up for the Affordable Care Act.

Malloy’s decision to withhold first quarter Medicaid payments from hospitals was even criticized by Democrats, including House Speaker Brendan Sharkey. The governor’s response: neither side of the aisle has come up with any alternative cuts.

“Well no kidding because this is a governor that has his door locked and sealed,” said Fasano. “I’ve asked to meet with the governor from the last budget until now.”

He has yet to receive a response, he says.