Hospital mergers, Iran’s agenda, the pope in Cuba

Healthy Debate

In his article “Care Package” (August 17), Wayne Sheridan critiques Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s decision to halt the merger of state-owned University of Louisville Hospital Medical Center (UMC) with Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) and several regional Catholic hospitals. In order to understand the context for that decision, several important concerns must be addressed. It is true, as Sheridan points out, that Kentucky is one of the unhealthiest states in the union. The merger of the hospitals would have given a major infusion of money to our health-care programs, especially those designed to serve the poor. Kentucky is also one of the poorest states in the nation, with 26 percent of our children living in poverty.

But the state legislature’s failure to address the financial needs of UMC must be noted as a major reason the state’s poor are not properly served. Kentucky’s revenue system is outdated, unjust (the working poor pay up to 11 percent of their income in state and local taxes while those making over $250,000 a year pay just 6 percent), and inadequate (the state ran structurally imbalanced budgets several years prior to the 2008 recession, and since). It is the duty of the governor and legislators to reform tax laws to ensure money is available to HMC to provide for the poor, and to serve as an outstanding training center for future, much-needed...

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