Both Memorial Health System of East Texas and Woodland Heights Medical Center are privileged to serve the health care needs of Lufkin, Angelina County and surrounding areas. In our two hospitals, more than 2,200 employees work around the clock, 365 days a year to provide residents with quality health care when they need it. Hospitals are not like schools, where grandparents, parents and children are engaged almost every day. You probably don’t think about our local hospitals most days. But, if an illness or injury occurs, you expect us to be here to heal you and your loved ones with compassion and skill.
Despite everyone’s best efforts, some illnesses or injuries can’t be healed. And it’s the same way with the budget cuts proposed in Austin. If funding for local hospitals, doctors and nurses is not maintained, our health care system will be hurt beyond repair and people all across Texas will feel the consequences. With cuts of 35 percent or more in state reimbursement for care, some hospitals will be forced to limit services. Some clinics will close. Wait times will grow longer for everyone. Unemployment will increase and it will cause an economic ripple effect through our community, touching local businesses from whom our hospitals and employees buy goods and services.
This significant rate reduction will cause a great loss of federal funding and additional cost-shifting to local governments and their taxpayers. If proposed legislation passes, it could mean a more than $9 million shortfall for our community’s hospitals, a loss that will be challenging to our hospitals.
State budget cuts in health care also will cause Texas to lose billions of federal matching dollars for health care. This loss will result in a shift of costs to someone, local government, private insurance, someone. Why would we leave federal dollars on the table, taxes paid by Texans, to support health care in other states like New York or California?
You and your family and friends probably take health care for granted. If you have a health care crisis, you count on calling 9-1-1 and an ambulance coming and taking you to the hospital ER. In addition to cutting reimbursement to doctors and hospitals, lawmakers are reducing funding for the trauma care system, which is supported in large part by the Driver Responsibility Program that penalizes bad drivers with increased fines. Since the program’s inception, legislators have appropriated only part of the money raised for its original purpose: supporting trauma care. Now, they are proposing to allocate even less or about $58 million per year for the next two-year budget – a 23 percent decrease from 2010-11. And some lawmakers want to eliminate the Driver Responsibility Program, leaving the state’s trauma system with no financial support. At a time when the state is considering cutting funding for doctors and mental health providers, which will drive more patients to seek help from emergency rooms, now is not the time to reduce trauma care spending, or leave the trauma system without a source of financial support.
We know we need a balanced state budget, but please join us in asking our legislators to consider the consequences of deep cuts in health care funding. Visit the Texas Hospital Association’s website, www.somecutsdontheal.org, and help protect patients and the hospitals, doctors and nurses who care for them.
To show your support,help us by contacting our state legislators today and urge them to make decisions that are right for Texas! You can also visit our websites at woodlandheights.net or memorialhealth.org to download a letter to send to Austin. Our hospitals want to be here when you need us. Help us so we can be here for you. We thank you for your support!!
Contact information for state legislators:
Representative James White The Honorable Robert Nichols
Room E2.720, Capitol Extension P.O. Box 12068
P.O. Box2910 Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78768 Austin, TX 78711
Thanks for your support.
Bryant Krenek Casey Robertson
Memorial Health System of East Texas Woodland Heights Medical Center
Please personalize your message to your House member. Two samples are provided below – be sure to insert information about yourself and your specific concerns/thoughts.
Version A – Hospital Employee/Board Member/Volunteer
My name is _____________________________, and I am a nurse at ABC Hospital. I am concerned about the deep cuts in the proposed 2012-13 state budget. I’m worried about what will happen to my patients, our community and my job.
Many of my patients are covered by Medicaid, and I know the hospital loses money treating them. If the hospital’s reimbursement drops even more, some services will be cut, and people won’t get the health care they need. Our staff already is working at maximum capacity, and even if I don’t lose my job through lay-offs, it will be hard to care for the volume of patients we see with even fewer people.
I know the state must balance its budget. But cutting funding for local hospitals, doctors and nurses doesn’t eliminate the need for health care. It just shifts the burden of paying for it from the state to local government and people with health insurance. When I’m short of money, I reduce spending, but at some point, I work extra hours to make more money. The state needs to find new revenue too, not just cut spending.
Version B – Concerned Community Member or Patient/Family
My name is _____________________________, and I live in ______________. My family and I count on ABC Hospital for our health care. I am concerned about the deep cuts in funding for local hospitals, doctors and nurses in the proposed 2012-13 state budget. It’s difficult to get a doctor’s appointment now, and rate cuts will make it even harder.
The hospital ER already is busy, and if free clinics close, more people will go to the ER. If one of my family members has an emergency, I don’t want them to have to wait because people who don’t need to be there are clogging up the system. I want a strong statewide trauma system, and money collected to fund trauma care should be spent as intended.
I also don’t want to pay higher local taxes or higher insurance premiums to make up what the state cuts out of hospital funding. The state shouldn’t shift its financial problems to the local level. And, the state should maximize federal matching funds, and not let the federal taxes I pay go to other states to subsidize their health care programs.
Reducing spending is one part of balancing the budget; more revenue is the other piece that currently is missing. Take a balanced approach to balancing the state budget. I want my hospital and doctor to be here when I need them.