Connecticut Hospital Association: ‘Collaboration is Vital to Protect Healthcare Access, Advance Affordability’

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To the Editor:

When it comes to improving health outcomes and controlling costs (“Tackling Rising Healthcare Costs Must Remain a Priority for Our Legislators,” Nov. 9), it is vital that we all continue working collaboratively to adopt policies that will help improve affordability and sustain world class healthcare delivery in Connecticut, without jeopardizing access to care.

As part of that work, we must continue to recognize the special role hospitals play in delivering unique care to each patient in both hospital and community settings. And we must avoid policies that put hospitals and high-quality care at risk, even when suggested with the best intentions.

Every day, Connecticut hospitals and health systems serve as safety nets for their communities and provide exceptional care for everyone who walks through their doors, regardless of ability to pay. In 2021 alone, Connecticut hospitals provided $2.4 billion in unreimbursed and uncompensated care. As hospitals and health systems focus more on whole person care, population health, and preventive care to keep people healthy and out of the hospital in the first place, more services are being offered by hospitals in community settings that increase convenience for patients. The focus remains steadfast on ensuring access to care for every person.

At the same time, hospitals and health systems are facing enormous financial strain, workforce shortages, government underpayments, and inflationary pressures on prescription drugs and labor costs. As challenges grow, we must be cautious of policies that don’t address the needs of Connecticut residents and that would only increase costs and barriers to care. The FAIR Act, for example, would impose unnecessary and onerous administrative burden on care providers and needlessly increase administrative costs by requiring billing changes related to the location of care delivery. Hospitals already follow transparent billing rules. The policy is not about increasing transparency. It’s a proposal that has been influenced by special interest groups and pushed in Washington by national insurance companies, at the expense of hospitals and their patients.

Every person deserves access to high quality healthcare, which is exactly what hospitals work to do every day. Together, we need to continue advancing policies like those developed here in Connecticut in partnership with lawmakers and care providers. We need to address administrative burden and bureaucracy that drive up costs.  We also need to take the steps hospitals and health advocates have long encouraged, and address the underfunding of Medicaid – an issue that not only shifts costs to those with private insurance, but also deprives people who are medically underserved of access to needed care and social supports. We need to make sure national insurance companies are not given more power over the hospitals that serve our communities.

Delivering affordable and accessible quality healthcare remains a top priority for Connecticut hospitals and the people they care for every day. We encourage everyone to continue collaborating to develop policies that work for Connecticut families and protect healthcare access for all.

Paul Kidwell serves as the Senior VP, Policy at the Connecticut Hospital Association. He resides in New Haven.