O'Malley hasn't spared health care from cuts

December 16, 2010

In the December 16 article "O'Malley provides grim preview of budget," I was surprised to read this: "While the governor has been tight-lipped about potential areas for cuts, he said Wednesday that he might look at programs that had been spared in previous budgets. Those could include education and health care."

Health care spared? No. In fact, health care in Maryland has been cut drastically. The state has funded the rapid expansion of its Medicaid program almost totally on the backs of providers, including hospitals. Hospitals supported Medicaid expansion and, in fact, worked with the state to get eligible people signed up so they can get the care they need. But no good deed goes unpunished. During the past three years, as the number of Medicaid enrollees soared from 570,000 to what is likely to soon hit the 1 million mark, hospitals have been hit with $125 million in funding cuts to balance the cost of the program. And this coming year looks to be worse, as the governor stated in the article.

Hospitals are a convenient target for wielders of the budget ax. But sending more people to us for care while chopping the resources provided to care for them makes little economic sense and far less sense when it comes to delivering quality care. And that is a battle we will face once again beginning in only a few weeks. Meanwhile, rest assured: health care has been cut.

Carmela Coyle, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland Hospital Association.

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