Calvin M. Pierson starts his new job as president of the Maryland Hospital Association upbeat and optimistic.
He's concerned about the state's $450 million budget deficit and a resulting $34.4 million in state Medicaid cuts to state hospitals. But Mr. Pierson has dealt with similar problems before. He encountered pretty much the same scenario in Rhode Island, where he headed that state's hospital association before coming to Maryland a few weeks ago.
"Rhode Island actually went into the recession before the state of Maryland," Mr. Pierson said this week. "The last two years in Rhode Island, the budget deficit has been several times worse than in Maryland currently. So we had the Medicaid program in jeopardy two years ago, and it's just now hitting Maryland.
"That whole process of working with a budget problem of that magnitude, and then having to work with the legislature and a governor who didn't always see eye-to-eye in Rhode Island, was as difficult, if not more so, than this issue," Mr. Pierson said.
While Rhode Island hospitals did swallow some Medicaid cuts, Mr. Pierson said he worked to protect the program, which depends on state and federal funds to provide health care for the poor and the disabled.
"The major agenda item for the Maryland Hospital Association this coming legislative session is to get a restoration" for state funds for Medicaid, Mr. Pierson said.
The MHA plays an active lobbying role on behalf of state hospitals, in addition to running a $60 million group purchasing and shared services program for its members.
Prior to his positions in Maryland and Rhode Island, Mr. Pierson, 44, worked with the Hospital Association of New York State and held a health policy position with New York's state government.