Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s line item vetoes in the state budget include cuts to funding for rural hospitals.
Health care officials representing state hospitals say they are disappointed with the governor’s decision to cut roughly $34-million in funding to what are called critical access hospitals.
Critical access hospitals are federally designated hospitals that are more than thirty-five miles away from another hospital. There are 37 critical access hospitals across the state and advocates say those hospitals are already underfunded.
The Governor’s cuts also included a $16-million dollar veto for funding to rural hospitals.
Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist said the Governor’s executive budget did have funding for hospitals - but the Republican budget forced hard choices.
“They didn’t fund cyber security for the department of technology, management, and budget,” Gilchrist said. “That puts the social security numbers of people in the state of Michigan who get services at risk. They did things that were risky, dangerous, and irresponsible and it was our responsibility to fix those things.”
Gilchrist said the best way to understand the Governor’s priorities is by looking at the executive budget she put out in March.
Chris Mitchell is with the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. He said he understands political posturing, but..
“It just really doesn’t seem fair to put Michigan residents as part of this political chessboard,” he said. Mitchell added that his members were worried about what might happen if the budget negotiations don’t work out as the Governor hopes.
“For too long the hospitals in Michigan have operated with inadequate Medicaid reimbursement rates which have continuously moved away from providing the full cost of care,” he said. “The elimination of funding for small and rural hospitals… just further exacerbates the financial burdens on our hospitals and their ability to provide high quality health care.”
Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield said in a statement he was disappointed the Governor used “roads, schools, children with autism, veterans, and local hospitals as political pawns.”
House and Senate Majority Leaders are expected to meet with the Governor on Thursday.
You can find a list of the state’s critical access hospitals here.