ALTON — Alton Memorial Hospital and Saint Anthony’s Health Center have teamed up in an effort to help elected officials and area residents understand the importance of enacting a responsible state budget that maintains the current tax rates to avoid cuts to hospitals.
Staff from both facilities recently visited with state Sen. William Haine and state Rep. Dan Beiser, stressing that without the continuation of current tax revenues, hospitals will be forced to reduce or eliminate services and jobs would be lost.
“We recognize that Senator Haine and Representative Beiser face difficult decisions over the next several weeks in developing and enacting a state budget for the next fiscal year,” said Sister M. Mikela, president and CEO of Saint Anthony’s Health Center.
“But this issue is about more than health care – without the continuation of current tax revenues, roads, school and public safety will also be exposed to severe cuts in funding,” Mikela said.
Over the past several years, hospitals and health systems across the state have done more than their fair share to help the state address its fiscal challenges — absorbing more than $380 million in state Medicaid cuts since 2011, according to the Illinois Hospital Association. At the same time, hospitals in Illinois are sustaining federal Medicare cuts of $190 million in the current fiscal year and will be absorbing more than $11 billion in Medicare cuts over the next 10 years.
“Many hospitals are already struggling to survive. More than one-third of Illinois hospitals – in every part of the state – are operating in the red, and another 10 percent have extremely thin operating margins of less than 2 percent,” said David Braasch, president of Alton Memorial Hospital. “Hospitals simply cannot absorb any more cuts.”
Any further Medicaid cuts will do great harm to patients and the state’s health delivery system by:
- Reductions and elimination of services such as trauma, obstetrics and mental health;
- Longer waits in the ER;
- Loss of patients’ access to life-saving technology and treatments; and
- Layoffs and declining economic activity.
Illinois ranks 50th, last among the states, in Medicaid spending per beneficiary, at an average of $5,229 per enrollee. Neighboring Missouri ranks seventh, at $10,022 per enrollee, while Alaska ranks first at $13,073 per enrollee.
Any further Medicaid cuts would also undermine the two hospital’s vital roles as major job creators.
“Between both Alton Memorial Hospital and Saint Anthony’s Health Center, we provide nearly 1,800 jobs in this community, helping to keep the local economy strong,” Braasch said.