To Create Better Jobs and Schools Governor Wolf Needs a Robust Healthcare Industry

The Wolf administration is missing an opportunity to fulfill its pledge "to create jobs that pay and schools that teach" by advancing a budget that cuts $166 million in hospital funding.

The fact is, Pennsylvania hospitals generate jobs and keep Pennsylvanians healthy so they can earn and learn.

We urge Wolf to support the hospital spending proposal developed by the state House and Senate in the state budget bill he vetoed last month.

The General Assembly recognized the need to invest in hospitals as they strive to make sure that newly insured Pennsylvanians have access to primary and preventive services; that hospitals can sustain needed obstetrics and neonatal services and burn care; and that our rural communities have access to vitally needed health care services.

When Wolf took office he said he wanted to build on the "innate strengths of Pennsylvania's economy."

Hospitals have been and will continue to be critical to this effort.

Significant cuts jeopardize jobs at hospitals.

Hospitals contribute $111 billion to the state's economy and support nearly 591,000 total jobs, directly and indirectly.

Every dollar directly spent by hospitals results in an additional $1.30 spent in other parts of the economy.

Hospital jobs create opportunities in communities and provide family-sustaining wages. Further, the skills and professional support provided to the hospital workforce can enable career growth and advancement.

Pennsylvania's hospitals are providing more care in outpatient settings. They are focused on wellness and chronic care management.

These efforts involve partnerships with employers and their employees to strengthen the workforce and reduce absenteeism.

A Deloitte national study indicates that health improvement is one of the top five strategies companies can employ to manage costs and maintain an effective, efficient workforce.

In addition, hospitals serve an important role in communities by working with other organizations to address issues of safety, child health, nutrition, housing, community care for elderly persons, and personal dignity, particularly for individuals with mental health or other disabling conditions.

All of these services impact the ability of individuals to learn or work.

Many people do not realize that hospitals' commitment to community can extend to addressing childhood hunger and giving children safe recreation space––services often provided far from their campuses.

Twenty percent of children in Pennsylvania struggle with hunger. Many live in isolated urban or rural areas without access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Children living in high crime areas cannot go outside to get exercise. Hospitals as close as PinnacleHealth, just blocks from our state Capitol, are stepping in to change this and ensure children are healthy enough to learn. That's an investment in our state's future.

Since 2010, hospitals have contributed $639 million to help balance the state budget each year.

They are willing to provide additional help in this year's budget as well. But, our hospitals need secure funding that allows for investment in health care services and community health programs, and support the goals of earning and learning in our communities.

Andy Carter is president and CEO of The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

This appeared on PennLive on July 10, 2015.

Nothing contained here should be
considered as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any legislation.

The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Susquehanna Valley Center.

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