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Malloy’s Budget Forces Hospitals On Critical List

May 26th, 2013 · 16 Comments · Analysis and Comment, News and Events

William Jennings, president and CEO of Bridgeport Hospital, one of the city’s largest employers, writes “it’s crisis time” for Connecticut hospitals. Governor Dan Malloy’s budget proposal on the verge of a vote by the state legislature will cause serious damage to health care institutions, according to Jennings. His commentary, which also appears in the Connecticut Post, follows:

Balancing a budget is always a painful and precarious undertaking, whether it’s the household budget, the company budget or the state budget. And so we understand the challenge the governor has as he tries to close a $1.2 billion deficit in his $43.8 billion two-year budget.

The problem is we don’t want Connecticut’s health care system to be destroyed in the process, and that, tragically, seems to be the direction the state is taking. In the memorable words of Yogi Berra, it’s déjà vu all over again, particularly when you recall that the last time the state had budget woes, it tried to solve them by instituting a hospital tax.

The latest budget proposal calls for massive hospital cuts–more than $550 million to hospitals statewide over the next two years, on top of the $103 million that has been cut from hospital funding for the current two-year cycle.

The irony is that Gov. Malloy, who has a zealous commitment to jobs creation in a troubled state, clearly has gone down a path that will lead to real job cuts when it comes to Connecticut’s 30 hospitals. In short, the proposed cuts will adversely affect thousands of people in our towns and cities.

On a local level, there is already fear and anxiety because when you include the rescissions Gov. Malloy made in December, the overall impact on Bridgeport Hospital alone will be nearly $27 million. These cuts, as you can imagine, will be devastating to health care in Bridgeport and the communities we serve. Similar cuts are proposed at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, so our detrimental regional impact is doubled.

Moreover, they come at a time when the health care industry is undergoing structural changes. Safety and quality of care are on everyone’s mind because of the increasing pressure to control costs with the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a result, we’ve spent significant time and resources becoming more efficient while simultaneously preserving the excellence and safety that have characterized Bridgeport Hospital and its parent, the Yale New Haven Health System.

Despite a promise two years ago to protect Connecticut’s safety net, current efforts to balance the budget jeopardize care for the poorest and most fragile among us. Beyond a doubt, these cuts will jeopardize programs that serve low-income families and provide mental-health services, including clinics for the poor, the uninsured, the homeless, the frail elderly, and children and adults with special needs.

They will require that we make serious cost cuts and staff reductions, and as a result, I am presenting a formal plan to our board of directors that examines closing services that are not part of our core hospital operation. Quite simply, we will be forced to cut certain services that don’t pay for themselves. The state’s proposed cuts will harm the people who can least afford to lose care because they will compel us to curtail services that no one else will be willing or able to provide.

As the city of Bridgeport’s largest employer, Bridgeport Hospital provides 2,500 jobs, and many could be lost as a result of the governor’s budget proposal.

However, consider this. A recent analysis by The New York Times showed that each year the state of Connecticut offers $860 million in tax breaks, economic development loans and grants for development and jobs creation, to a host of different companies–among them the Royal Bank of Scotland, which received about $100 million in credits and rebates, and hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, which got $115 million in incentives to build a headquarters in Stamford.

Many of these “incentives” are used to attract businesses to stay in the state or come to the state. More power to them if they can capitalize on Connecticut’s generosity when everyone else is struggling.

But let’s not forget the home team. Let’s not forget the state’s 30 hospitals, which employ local workers who are going to be the ones that suffer because of the governor’s budget proposal.

It’s crisis time in Connecticut. It’s time to show some sensitivity to the needs of our hospitals because our hospitals generate almost 110,000 jobs and $10.8 billion in annual payroll. Our hospitals contribute more than $20 billion to the state’s economy. And our hospitals are committed to quality health care for the residents of Connecticut.

It’s time for our elected officials to acknowledge that reality and stop penalizing us. Let your legislators know that it is time to do the right thing for Connecticut.


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16 Comments so far ↓

  • Ron Mackey

    William Jennings makes a number of good points concerning Governor Malloy’s budget cuts for Connecticut hospitals and why they are hurtful. First, I understand hospitals do not pay taxes but their employees do. Hospitals are like fire houses in your neighborhood, they are there to serve you 24 hours a day, you hope you never have to use either one but they are there for you, they are your neighbor.

    If the state can give money to companies who have never provided anything to the state, then Governor Malloy should be able to do what Mr. Jennings stated, “let’s not forget the home team,” who are already providing careers and jobs plus quality health care.

    • Godiva2011

      First of all, how about a little bit of charity beginning at home … take a look at the bloated salaries of Mr. Jennings, who happens to be at the lower end of the totem pole, only raking in over $1.5 million. His counterparts at St. Vincent’s and Yale are making just about double that. That’s an outrage when employees’ jobs are being cut to help subsidize these atrocious salaries of the administrators.

      • Bob

        You cannot have micromanagers running businesses. None of these “administrators” have any idea how to generate revenues. They only know how to control expenditures. They’ll nickel and dime you to death and raise their own salaries and high-end golden parachutes for themselves without care for your healthcare.
        On the other side of the coin is the governments of city, state and federal who have no idea what they are doing to the economy. All they are interested in is “their” job. And the administrators of government need to exercise across-the-board salary cuts to bring governmental salaries into compliance with the private-sector salaries for similar jobs.

  • Grin Ripper

    Seriously? The hospitals are on a DNR? Look at the salaries and the P & L statements of these “Not-for-Profits.” They read more like a peek-a-boo than an ICU!

  • Grin Ripper

    Maybe the two Home Teams should not be giving money to Megan Lowney’s organization.

  • Godiva2011

    Maybe hospital administrators such as St. Vincent’s should take a cut in their atrocious salaries/perks, some pushing or in excess of $3 million. No one can possibly justify that. Since they are already planning to cut positions, think of the number of jobs that will be lost among the staff and the toll it will take on patient care. Even if those bloated salaries were cut in half, think of the number of positions that could avoid layoffs. Just how many patients do these “non-profits” have to service just to cover one glutton’s salary … makes one wonder.

  • Ron Mackey

    Godiva2011, have you made that suggestion to Mayor Finch about his salary?

    • Godiva2011

      You’re comparing an apple to an orange. Why would I when I’m guessing he’s paid on par with most mayors of other cities? Mayors have to run a whole city, not just 2500 employees. How can you rationalize the comparison between a multi-million dollar salary for a hospital administrator and maybe $140K or whatever it is he makes? Think about people like the elderly on Medicare and fixed incomes, or the underinsured getting a hefty bill from a stay or a procedure at one of these “non-profits.” They are the ones helping to line those pockets.

  • Ron Mackey

    Let me try to list some of things a hospital CEO has to deal with: a hospital like Bridgeport Hospital is the lifeblood of most of the communities they serve. They usually are a major employer, if not the largest employer, what employer in Bridgeport has more? People generally look to them as a source of stability, knowing if something bad happened, the hospital would have its doors open. Something all hospitals are facing is cuts to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement, they must deal with recruitment of physicians, another important problem here in Bridgeport includes supporting the indigent populations, such as the under- and uninsured. But their number one issue is providing good health care for their customers. One of the key quality of life items companies and corporations consider when moving into an area are the hospitals.

    • Godiva2011

      You’re forgetting something, they may be a major employer but many of their employees are grossly underpaid, yet they are the first ones out the door when the cuts come. As far as key considerations for companies moving into an area based on hospitals, seems to me Shelton is thriving … no hospital there.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    While it is true the hospitals do contribute a few jobs to Bridgeport residents, the majority of jobs are in the suburbs.
    The two hospitals in Bridgeport pay no taxes in Bridgeport, we are reimbursed by the state via the Pilot program which only provides a portion of what the taxes are.
    These two hospitals are on a buying spree, purchasing housing that surrounds the hospital. In fact Bridgeport Hospital as bought many properties on Seaview Ave near Williston St. St. Vincent’s has bought property along the Lindley Street corridor. The question is do these properties come off the tax roles now that they are owned by the hospitals?
    The hospitals are crying poor mouth yet they continue to expand. Amazing! Poor people are covered under Husky or Medicaid and if they are not the cost of their care is absorbed by the hospital charges to those with insurance.

  • Mustang Sally

    With the list of potential legal exposures a hospital is exposed to by the minute being inherent to the field, I agree the CEO should make beaucoup bucks. In many instances, I am sure the CEO can be held responsible for the actions or misactions of the staff at large. However, one would think $500K or so would keep his kids in the Ivy league, his wife in DeBeers and he in the mid-life crisis mobile du jour.

    The City should not have to suffer the threat of a healthcare worker shortage to keep these greedy scoundrels in Rolexes. Egregious, really.

  • Ronin

    Bpt Hospital should not be under attack, Bridgeport. They provide services that are necessary to the uninsured and underemployed people of Bridgeport. St. Vincent’s on the other hand can deny treatment because there are private industry.

    • Ron Mackey

      Ronin, maybe I missed something. I also don’t understand why Bridgeport Hospital is under attack.

      Bridgeport Hospital is a private, not-for-profit acute care hospital located in Connecticut’s most populous city, primarily serving patients from Fairfield and New Haven Counties. Burn patients are seen in The Connecticut Burn Center–the only burn center in Connecticut–from throughout the state and neighboring states.

      Bridgeport Hospital is a member of the Yale New Haven Health System with Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital and Greenwich Hospital, and managed care network participant Westerly (R.I.) Hospital.

      Bridgeport Hospital has 383 licensed beds plus 42 beds licensed under Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, more than 2,600 employees, nearly 600 active attending physicians representing more than 60 subspecialties, 235 medical/surgical residents and fellows in programs affiliated with Yale University School of Medicine, and more than 460 volunteers and 380 auxilians.

      Now I found that information on their website. I ask the question again, what company in Bridgeport is providing this type of employment?

      I notice there are some who feel the CEO/President salary is too big, well let me address that about Bridgeport Hospital. That salary is in the range CEO/Presidents make in that field, the market makes that decision. In that position you need a person with strong leadership skills, vision and strategy, Innovation, to be Creative, be a Negotiator, technological advances are needed, these are just a few things I can think of right now but there are more. Just look at the renovation that is happening at Bridgeport Hospital and once the old Harding High School is relocated onto the GE property on Boston Ave. with its new name then Bridgeport Hospital can develop all of the property and the football field thereby creating more employment, that is a win-win for the City. I do not begrudge William Jennings not one penny of his salary. I was born and raised in Bridgeport and what Bridgeport Hospital is doing makes me proud and the City proud.

  • Mojo


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