News

More cuts to come for OMC?

by MARK ST.J. COUHIG
Sequim Gazette
    

A continuing decline in state revenues means Olympic Medical Center (OMC) is once again eyeing major reductions in its state funding.

 

Earlier this year the Washington Legislature made $5 billion in painful cuts. The state’s legislators are now looking at cutting another $1.5 billion — or more — from the state budget.

 

In a recent letter to OMC employees and medical staff, OMC CEO Eric Lewis was blunt: “The state budget situation has turned from bad to disastrous,” he said.

 

Washington’s Health Care Authority, which oversees seven health care programs, has submitted $418 million in new program cuts to Governor Christine Gregoire.

 

The cuts include eliminating the adult Medicaid pharmacy benefits ($127.5 million in savings with 500,000 people affected), terminating the Disability Lifeline program ($110 million in savings, affecting 22,000), terminating the Basic Health Plan ($70.4 million in savings, 35,000 people affected), terminating Maternity Support Services ($21 million in savings, 54,000 people affected), reducing Certified Public Expenditure payments to hospitals ($13.9 million in savings) and many other cuts. Lewis spelled out what the cuts would mean: “As approximately 17 percent of OMC patients are paid for by the state, these proposed cuts — that total just under $5 million — would be devastating to OMC.”

 

OMC officials say their top priority is preserving the Medicaid Certified Public Expenditure Program for large district hospitals. Cuts to that program alone could cost the hospital $2 million in funding for Medicaid patients. Lewis recently sent a letter to state officials asking that any necessary reimbursement reductions be shared equally.

 

Lewis said he and members of the board will soon meet with state elected officials “to explain the negative impact these proposed cuts would have on our local health care community in 2012.”

 

 

Reach Mark Couhig at mcouhig@sequimgazette.com.

 


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