Look beyond the caregiving role of Connecticut hospitals and you will find a promising means of strengthening our state’s economy.

In addition to being good for the health of residents, Connecticut hospitals are good for the health of business as well.

The economic impact of Connecticut hospitals is significant. Our hospitals contribute $21.9 billion annually to the state and local economies. They provide good jobs to 55,000 full-time employees, and generate another 55,000 “ripple effect” jobs.

They spend $4.2 billion on goods and services, and as those funds flow through the economy, they generate an additional $4.6 billion in local economic activity.

The dust is settling after the governor’s proposed budget was presented, and the legislature has begun its work to produce a final budget. It’s vital in these discussions to consider that hospitals are an essential economic stimulus. They form the backbone of their communities and serve as their economic lifeblood, yet the proposed budget would cut and tax our hospitals $800 million over the biennium, and add numerous new regulatory burdens.

A coalition of business leaders is working intensely toward a goal of placing Connecticut among the top 20 states for business by the year 2017. Given that we are next-to-last in that category currently, this “CT20X17” initiative is ambitious – but with the support of our state policymakers, it can be done.

CT20X17 has united a diverse alliance of businesses, chambers, and for-profit and not-for-profit service and health providers. The focus of the effort to “Move Connecticut Up” is to build a brighter economic future for everyone in the state. Support for our hospitals is a critical component of this initiative (show support for your hospital at www.CareWeCanCountOn.org).

Now is the time for action. We are urging legislators to make decisions that will reinforce what’s best about our state and foster growth in jobs, opportunity, and quality of life. Our coalition is calling on policymakers to finalize a budget that is built upon the platform of making our state a better place to work, live, and raise a family.

Our state has many important strengths. Connecticut is ranked No. 1 in per capita income and is No. 3 in the percentage of residents with master’s, professional, or doctoral degrees. We have the fifth lowest poverty rate, but there also are factors that have held back the kind of economic growth we need. Despite great access to capital, Connecticut ranks 49th among the 50 states for our economy, according to CNBC’s Top States for Business national business climate rankings.

One way to move Connecticut up the rankings is by giving our local communities and job creators – including hospitals – the tools they need to grow our economy. In Connecticut, we do best when we empower our communities. This is reflected in the high marks our state gets for productivity and a skilled, educated workforce, the health of our population, and access to high-quality health and human services.

Members of the CT20X17 coalition represent organizations and businesses with unique and specific agendas, but we stand united in keeping our focus on the positive and aspirational goal to “#MoveCTUp.”

Jennifer Jackson is CEO of the Connecticut Hospital Association, which represents the interests of the state’s hospitals on key healthcare issues. 

The Connecticut Hospital Association is a sponsor of CTMirror.org, CTViewpoints.org and TrendCT.org.

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