Medicaid might not be the only part of Missouri’s health care system to undergo budget cuts from Gov. Matt Blunt. Last week, Blunt handed down
$239.2 million in proposed budget cuts across state agencies and, though he promised no reductions in higher-education funding, the MU Health Care system was on the list.
Under the proposed cuts, the MU Health Care system’s state funding would be 10 percent less than the current amount.
The system includes University Hospital and Clinics, Columbia Regional Hospital, Ellis Fischel Cancer Center and Missouri Rehabilitation Center.
The 10 percent reduction means a cut of $1.3 million from University Hospital and Clinics and about $1 million from Missouri Rehabilitation Center, said Blunt’s press secretary, Jessica Robinson. She said the governor thinks all his cuts will help make state agencies more efficient and will not affect their performance.
“It’s a small piece of their budget overall,” Robinson said. “Hopefully they’ll be able to absolve most of this.”
She said that any changes in how money is spent will be left to the hospitals’ discretion. The governor hopes this will allow administrators to develop creative solutions to make themselves more cost-effective, she said.
This cut would walk back steady increases in the system’s budget over the past four years. State funding had increased roughly 10 percent from $20.4 million in 2002 to about $22.6 million this year.
The proposed cut comes as the system just recently began making money again. In November, the system reported profits of $26.4 million for 2004 after losing $30 million dollars in the previous five years. University officials would not speculate about how the cuts could affect the hospital.
The UM system is still examining the impact of the proposed cuts, spokesman Joe Moore said. He did say that UM system administrators will play a role in the budget process.
“I believe we intend to have conversations with state officials,” he said.
Jeff Hoelscher, spokesman for University Hospital, said they are also reviewing the proposed cuts to see how they could affect the hospital but could not make any conclusions right now.
State Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, doesn’t need a detailed analysis to know this won’t be good for the system.
“I think it’ll take all the hard work that the hospital’s done to get them back in the black and it’ll take them straight back into the red,” Graham said.
He will be working with lobbyists from the university to fight the cuts, he said.
Another opponent of the proposed cuts is state Rep. Wes Shoemyer, D-Clarence. He also said he thinks these cuts will prevent the hospital from making a profit. He said as more people lose their Medicaid coverage, they will come to MU Health Care because it has to provide service for them and that will strain the system.
The state’s budget must be finalized by May 6 and any changes will take effect July 1 when the state’s fiscal year begins.