Small hospitals ailing
State and federal governments currently owe Waldo County General Hospital more than $12 million for the 2004-2008 period. No interest is being paid on this money. The state and federal governments owe more than $400 million to Maine hospitals. This debt has caused two-thirds of our hospitals to borrow from banks and use their investments to meet daily operating costs.
In addition, patient bad debts and charity care at WCGH has increased by 30 percent in the last quarter of 2008. This amounts to well over $3 million annually that WCGH incurs without payment for services.
The 16 percent cut to Maine’s 15 critical access hospitals along with the hospital-based physician cut will be devastating. For WCGH, this is a reduction of approximately $2 million equating to more than 40-50 jobs. These cuts will have severe consequences for access to health care services and to the smallest and most vulnerable hospitals in our state. It is predicted that a half-dozen will close because of these cuts.
WCGH employs two-thirds of its physicians and these cuts will restrict the recruitment of doctors at a time when our state has more than 240 vacant physician positions. Patient access to physicians will become severely limited and emergency department use will increase.
Patient services will be eliminated or reduced as a result of these reductions in reimbursement. The hospital may have to consolidate or reduce staffing. Annual preventive health screenings, wellness clinics and chronic care services may be reduced or eliminated.
I urge legislators to oppose these cuts to critical access hospitals and hospital-based physicians.
Mark A. Biscone
WCGH executive director
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It amazes me that anyone who can acknowledge how wrong it was for our ancestors to steal native lands (and brutalize native people) can think it is perfectly all right for Israel to do the same thing now. It’s even all right, it seems, to blame the victims (Palestinians) for not more quietly going along with the theft and ethnic cleansing of their native lands.
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Let them eat off china
I always try to start the day off by skimming the daily news, first on line and then the newspaper. Yahoo.com has an article on Jan. 8 about Laura Bush spending $485,000 for a new set of china for the White House. The country is falling apart, bailouts are everywhere, people are either starving or freezing because they can’t afford the bare necessities, and here are the people we are looking to for answers on getting us out of this mess and they are wasting $485,000 on a set of dishes.
I can’t understand how people like this can sleep at night. Is there any politician anywhere in this country that has a conscience? Is there anyone out there with any clue what’s going on around them?
Can Obama change the direction we are going? I hope so, but not if he’s surrounded by the same people that are there now.
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Slaughter must stop
Nancy Oden’s OpEd piece, “No more free passes for Israel” (BDN, Jan 10-11) is right on the money. Let’s dispense with the euphemisms.
Genocide is genocide, even if from the comfort of our own intact (not bulldozed) homes we can’t smell the burning flesh of children the Israeli government bombed with white phosphorous.
It’s our tax dollars paying for this; it’s our supposed representatives from both sides of the aisle furthering this genocide through the “work” of the U.S. client-state, Israel. Oden asked for Maine’s Jewish community to speak out. My family, Eastern European Jews, were slaughtered by the Nazis. Israel-U.S. slaughter of Palestinians today is just as disgusting.