Hudson - Litchfield News 6 - August 5, 2011
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4 February Words Bring July Lawsuit 1
by Lynne Ober Last February Governor John Lynch presented his budget and made a detailed budget address. Now weeks later after the legislature has adopted much of his proposals, lawsuits have been filed and words are flying. In his budget address, Lynch explained why he was cutting $250 million in uncompensated care to hospitals. In fact a recent editorial in the Union Leader said that Lynch “gave a long explanation of why it was a great idea to reduce the operating budgets of New Hampshire’s hospitals,” and indeed a review of his speech shows that this is true. Much of the uncompensated care money that is no longer going to urban hospitals after the Lynch proposal has instead gone to offset a significant drop in enhanced federal Medicaid funds that stopped with the end of the stimulus. Without a doubt one issue with programs such as the Obama Stimulus Funds is that they are a one-time payment, but needs often continue. With the loss of those dollars, Lynch looked for other revenue to continue to help New Hampshire’s neediest residents. During his February 15 address, he spoke at length about the need to cut a lot of money from the Health and Human Services budget. He also explained that he been unable to find cuts that would not hurt the neediest New Hampshire residents until he latched onto the idea of cutting uncompensated care. “So we chose a third option. We are redirecting $20 million in uncompensated care payments the state now makes to hospitals to help maintain Medicaid optional services,” said Governor Lynch. At the time those in his party applauded while others waited for the next sentence.
In Lynch’s opinion hospitals provide essential medical care, “but from a financial perspective, the hospitals can afford this change.” Now that the budget has been passed, it is clear that Lynch did not have the backing of the hospitals for this nor are they willing to lose their revenue without a fight and so the lawsuit has been filed. “Hospitals get millions of dollars in tax breaks for being nonprofits. But according to their latest public filings, the top 200 executives of our 24 nonprofit hospitals made a collective $60 million,” said Lynch. Published facts will show that this is true. Lynch then went on to state, “Collectively, New Hampshire’s nonprofit hospitals generated cash over their expenses of more than $200 million.”
Although hospitals run open public restaurants as well as offering medical care, they are also exempt from the Rooms and Meals tax paid by any other eatery. Lynch felt that hospitals could participate with revenue sharing. He contended, “Instead of using that excess cash to reduce health care costs, hospitals spend it on advertising, trying to attract market share from each other; on buying physician and laboratory practices across the state, and then increasing overhead charges to patients.” At the time Lynch made it clear that he felt hospitals had $200 million in excess revenues they didn’t need, and were spending another $500 million on unjustified new construction because he also proposed a moratorium on additional hospital construction. When Lynch’s budget went to the legislature, they agreed with much of the Lynch proposal on uncompensated care, but did not reduce $51 million in uncompensated care payments to rural critical care hospitals where there is little competition of medical care.
State Senator Sharon Carson speaks to Hudson Republican Committee
submitted by Lucille Robbins The Hudson Republican Committee welcomed State Senator Sharon Carson as the featured speaker at Rodgers Memorial Library on Wednesday, July 27.
Representing New Hampshire State Senate District 14, Senator Carson presented a summary of recent legislative accomplishments as well as some issues remaining for the next session. With a record number of 19 Republicans in the senate, she said that the theme “Living Within Our Means” underlay the debate on hospital and pension-fund reforms. She stressed that there were many difficult processes involved, and hard choices to be made before the necessary legislation could emerge and be passed in a successful vote. The legislature accomplished mandating greater employee percentage contributions as well as up- grading retirement eligibility requirements.
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Despite expected protests from interest groups directly affected, the courage to “make the hard choices” was a top priority for Senator Carson and her Republican colleagues. The next legislative session will find second amendment issues and right-to-sue at the top of the list.
Redistricting is now a
dominant concern for the Senate, with the possibility of a Hudson- Nashua geography again being mentioned. A question-answer session focused on both the process of redistricting and the implications for the GOP. A motion was made and voted unanimously to send a letter
State Senator Sharon Carson and HRC Chairman Bryan Donovan
to Senator Carson, urging that no changes be made to Hudson’s status in District 14. It eventually will be decided in the senate committee, with individual citizens encouraged to voice their concerns.
Redistricting the House of Representatives is less uncertain, with Hudson to be separated from the present Pelham-Hudson-Litchfield district into a single Hudson district. Hudson will send a total of seven or possibly eight representatives to the legislature after the redistricting is completed.
Senator Carson urged the members to not hesitate to contact her office at any time with questions and concerns.
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