By Lynne Ide
There’s been a lot in the news about proposed cuts to Medicaid (HUSKY) programs in Governor Malloy’s budget — but there are plenty more health care cuts on the chopping block.
Here are just a few worth watching:
- Mental Health – A $585,000 cut in funding for Regional Mental Health Boards, which provide an effective community voice on mental health issues. These boards collaborate to bring in $23 million in federal dollars.
- School-based Health Centers – A $2 million cut in the next two years will reduce services and staff and dismantle some new and expanded programs. The last four years have shown an upward trend in use of the centers for behavioral health services.
- Hospitals – A $380 million combination of taxes and reductions in Medicaid reimbursement rates could destabilize some community hospitals and transfer more costs to patients.
Granted, health care programs are a tempting “go-to” place to find cuts — especially when health care costs make up close to a third of the state budget.
The real question is: Can we sustain these cuts without incurring new costs and experiencing unintended consequences?
The proposed cuts just beg more concerns:
- Will cuts in mental health programs result in increased hospitalization rates — or incarceration?
- Will cuts in school-based health centers result in denied or delayed primary and preventive care?
- Will hospitals be pushed into making decisions that are not in the best interest of the patients and the communities they serve?
The Governor has presented his budget. Now the advocates are making their cases. Ultimately, the legislature will pass a budget they think we can all live with.
Is anyone asking what we need and want from our state’s health care system and figuring out what we need to do to get there?
Not yet. And that’s a loss for us all.