Letters: Balanced budget shouldn’t come at expense of health care _lowres

Paul Salles

There is one place in your community that never shuts its doors. It doesn’t take off weekends or holidays or close for bad weather. It is a place you can absolutely depend upon to always be open.

That place is your nearest community hospital.

Access to quality health care in your community has always been one of Louisiana’s most important assurances to its people, no matter how much they earn or where they live.

However, hospital care has been cut across the state by more than 25 percent, or $1.4 billion, since 2009. These cuts, along with the state’s current economic crisis, threaten our health care and hospitals.

Additional cuts will leave Louisiana hospitals with tough decisions that impact local communities, both urban and rural. They will face drastic reductions in services, including primary and preventative care or even closures of acute, psychiatric and emergency services.

This puts added pressure on small businesses and individuals with health insurance, since they will pay more for insurance to cover those costs. Further cuts also mean fewer doctors, nurses and staff to care for Louisiana families.

Community leaders know that hospitals are not just the heartbeat of their hometowns — the places where children are born, parents are treated and emergencies are tended — but that they also are economic drivers, job generators and anchors for industry.

We all acknowledge that shared sacrifice will be required for resolving Louisiana’s looming financial crisis, but we cannot allow health care to be decimated to the point that Louisianians are denied medical services.

Balancing a state budget in Louisiana cannot come at the expense of either individual health or the state’s long-term economic viability.

Paul Salles

president/CEO,

Louisiana Hospital Association