The state’s pending final decision on the closure of Windham labor and delivery marks the first in a series of proposed changes that could significantly impact the future of reproductive health in rural Connecticut.
The proposed decision gives hope to those fighting to keep birthing services in their community. But it’s not final yet.
People in more rural parts of CT face fewer birthing options as hospitals move to suspend labor and delivery services.
Today is the second meeting of a task force established earlier this year by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Connecticut’s Certificate of Need (CoN) laws. Along with a parallel study by the Governor’s Health Care Cabinet, the task force is supposed to help formulate a 21st century body of laws to govern our complex healthcare system. The challenge to both bodies is to place at the center of every discussion the interests of patients; access, both geographic and financial, as well as outcomes.
As hospital officials describe it, state policy is pushing them in two opposing directions. Higher state taxes and funding cuts have added to the factors pushing independent community hospitals to join larger health systems, they say. But at the same time, legislators concerned about the growth of large health systems have been pushing for new restrictions on changes in hospital ownership, which hospital officials say makes it harder for them to adapt.
As hospitals join larger systems and critics worry about access to care, a key legislator said the time is ripe for lawmakers to revisit the way the state regulates major changes in health care. But it’s not yet clear what shape such changes will take – or whether they would leave the state with more regulation or less, a sign of sharply differing views on its role.
It is hard to turn on your computer or to check out your evening news without hearing highly paid hospital executives saying that the sky is falling and arguing that they are on the side of consumers. In reviewing the recent filings with state regulators, it appears that this may just be an effort to create a distraction as they go about radically changing the health care landscape in Connecticut. If unchecked it is likely to have a very harmful impact on cost and access.
Most of Connecticut’s 29 hospitals are in or joining larger systems, raising the possibility that parent companies will seek to consolidate services rather than offering every type of care at each hospital in their network. Does the state have the proper oversight to address cuts in what services hospitals deliver?
The hospital’s parent company says cuts are needed to keep the hospital open, but critics say the reductions being contemplated could undermine access to care in a part of the state with few hospitals and limited public transportation.
Connecticut’s acute-care hospitals saw gains from their operations tumble 35 percent in the last fiscal year, with seven of 29 hospitals reporting operating losses, according to a new state report.