Washington State Hospital Association Ad Campaign Hits House Budget Proposal
OLYMPIA, Wash., April 11, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Washington State's hospitals are voicing their strong opposition to the House version of the state budget with a radio and web-based campaign to drive home the message that "taxing hospital patients is just plain sick."
"The House budget makes deep cuts to hospital payments and services that will directly impact safety net hospitals and vital services provided to Medicaid enrollees," said Leo Greenawalt, president of the Washington State Hospital Association, which is paying for the ads. "The proposal to change the Hospital Safety Net Assessment from a fee to a tax on hospitals and their patients means hospitals will have to pass the cost of the assessment on to their patients."
The House budget makes a $220 million cut to hospital Medicaid rates, which means hospitals will be paid significantly less than the cost of caring for Medicaid patients. The House budget also cuts $75 million payments for emergency room visits.
"Ultimately, the burden of these cuts will fall on poor children, seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income workers," Greenawalt said. "The costs will also fall on middle-class workers who have private pay insurance as hospitals are forced to shift the cost of state underpayments to them."
In the radio ad, airing on stations in both Western and Eastern Washington, a "professor" asks "students" for suggestions on how to balance the state budget. After hearing the professor reject suggestions by two students to cut waste ("not always easy to find") and tax the rich ("protected by powerful special interests"), a third student says:
"The easiest way is to tax people who can't defend themselves. Go after children, the elderly and the sick. We could generate $250 million by creating a hospital patient tax of $200 a day. These people are too sick to fight it."
The ad urges listeners to voice their disapproval by calling the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.
"Hospitals are not able to absorb the impact of these cuts," Greenawalt said. "If enacted, they will be felt for years to come and will create enormous instability in our state's health care system."
SOURCE Washington State Hospital Association