Health Care Providers Rally At Statehouse

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(Host) Vermont doctors, nurses and other health professionals rallied at the Statehouse Wednesday to speak out about budget cuts and provider tax increases they say will put patient care in jeopardy.

Their message was that Vermont hospitals and many physician practices could be financially squeezed by budget changes proposed by Governor Peter Shumlin.

Shumlin is calling for increasing a state tax on hospitals and nursing homes. Backers of the plan say the state will use the money to draw down more federal matching funds to be put back into the health care system.

Some physicians are upset that none of those funds would be returned to the hospitals.

Stephanie O’ Brien is a nurse at Northwest Hospital in St. Albans.

O’Brien says the tax will pressure nurses to shift their focus from the quality of care, to efficiency and cost savings.

(O’Brien)  "While I’m proud of my nurse’s work on efficiency, we can’t become assembly lines that just push patients through like widgets.  Our patients are human beings and must be treated so."

(Host) House Speaker Shap Smith told those assembled at the rally that some budget changes will be unavoidable. 

(Smith) "I want to be candid and honest with that while we are looking closely to address the budgetary proposals of the governor, I can’t promise that we’re going to be able to change all of them."

(Host) Many in the health care industry are also upset with the Shumlin administration’s plan to fold the state’s subsidized health insurance for moderate-income people into Medicaid, because Medicaid reimburses providers at a lower level.

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