Hospitals are pleading for Arkansas taxpayer help, claiming yet another financial crisis.
Cindy Gillespie Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Human Services says Arkansas hospitals are facing a financial crisis and need state assistance. Gillespie (who announced she is resigning ahead of the end of the term of her boss, Governor Asa Hutchinson) said the crisis stems from:
- A drop in the normal sources of revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially outpatient revenues;
- Federal pandemic funding now starting to dwindle;
- Inflation driving up the cost of supplies; and
- A labor shortage in hospital staffing, particularly in nurses.[i]
In 2015, Arkansas hospitals cried “financial crisis” as they pushed for Arkansas to adopt Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which is health care primarily for able bodied working age adults who choose not to work. As a taxpayer you get to pay for their coverage through your state and federal taxes. It is also amazing that several states still refuse to adopt Medicaid Expansion but they still have hospitals.
Not surprisingly the 2015 hospital financial crisis suddenly disappeared after Arkansas adopted Obamacare Medicaid Expansion and before the program was even implemented.
Once the Medicaid Expansion money started rolling in, Arkansas hospitals went on a spending spree. Hospitals started expanding their facilities, adding new beds, and if their beds were not near full they expanded with new fancy lobbies, etc. (In Septemer 2015 we provided a partial list of construction projects when Arkansas was still calling Medicaid Expansion the private option.)
Having lots of money, the hospitals also accelerated their programs to buy out medical clinics and to buy out the private practices of many doctors. They had a great time spending money on expanding and constructing bigger facilities until the pandemic hit.
Hospitals added to their pandemic woes by shutting down elective procedures. While hospitals complain of a staff shortage, particularly nurses, several Arkansas hospitals contributed to the stcanvaaffing problem by terminating the employment of medical personnel who refused to take the COVID-19 vaccines. Some hospitals terminated employees even with a valid medical or religious exemption from the jabs. Other Arkansas hospitals made working conditions so onerous for those with legal exemptions that good unvaccinated doctors and nurses could not work under those conditions.
Since the hospitals are crying “crisis” again, the Department of Human Services is already jumping though hoops to get more tax dollars to hospitals. Some changes the hospitals want are likely to require passage of legislation. As with the last “crisis,” hospitals will be telling your legislators and your new governor – you must give up more money to save your hospitals. Then expect to see the hospitals resume their spending spree.
Medical freedom issues and “the science” have become serious issues since the last hospital crises. Surely Arkansans are a bit smarter this time around. Don’t fall for “too big” to fail or the same ole “pain point politics” game. Let your legislators know—taxed enough already…. especially for hospitals.