LETTER: Replace the hospital money

As some of the largest employers across the state, Ohio's hospitals deserve our thanks for what they do for our communities and pati
Commentary
May 7, 2010

 

As some of the largest employers across the state, Ohio's hospitals deserve our thanks for what they do for our communities and patients every day. They have also earned our special thanks for helping to stabilize Ohio's economy and budget by shouldering an additional $1.6 billion in fees over two years. These fees were essential to drawing down additional Medicaid monies which directly benefited Ohio's hospitals. The Ohio Hospital Association and its members recognized the benefit of the fees that were part of Ohio's budget -- a massive piece of legislation approved by a Republican Senate and Democratic House.

Unfortunately, as the budget emerged, the hospitals also experienced some of the budget cuts that rippled across Ohio. As a result of efforts by several legislators, including me, the impact on Ohio's hospitals was substantially reduced from that first proposed, but they were not held fully harmless.

Legislation recently proposed to unilaterally reduce the fee is pure political theater because it does not identify any funding -- or spending cuts -- to replace the cuts which it proposes. Its sponsors know that it has no chance of passing, demonstrating that it is easy to promise tax cuts and never deal with the challenges of increasing revenues or cutting expenditures.

Instead of political grandstanding, I continue to work with the administration to urge the fee reductions that have been suggested, but have also supported a proposal to fund the proposed cuts with increased Medicaid reimbursement. I believe that such practical efforts are far more likely to obtain relief for Ohio's hospitals.

The legislation's sponsors are among more than 30 legislators who propose to eliminate Ohio's income tax -- 45 percent of the general revenue fund -- without dealing with a huge resulting hole in the budget. This hole would devastate local schools, vastly increase the cost of college and close state prisons. And the hospital franchise fee that we are discussing will pale in comparison to the impact on Ohio's hospitals if the income tax is eliminated.

State Rep. Dennis Murray Jr.

D-Sandusky