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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Consequences: Fallout from Congressional support of AHCA

Congressman Bruce Poliquin - alert!

Two news reports from Maine's Second District

What was Congressman Poliquin thinking?  Obviously, when he voted to support the GOP supported AHCA, he was not thinking about his Second District constituents, in Maine.

Americans, including Maine's Second District constituents, warned Congressman Bruce Poliquin about the disastrous consequences of his vote to support the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in the House of Representatives.  

Now, the apparent consequences of Poliquin's wrong minded vote has come home to roost.  Health facilities in Maine's second district are feeling the pain. My prediction wasn't psychic, but based on rationale. You can't risk cutting patients access to health care and expect providers to afford paying for the delivery of care.  

LEWISTON, Me- Jeff Brickman, president and chief executive officer of Central Maine Healthcare, said the closing of an urgent care facility in Auburn and a clinic in Mechanic Falls is part of an overall cost-reduction effort to put the health system on a more sustainable financial footing.

Central Maine Healthcare, an integrated health system that includes Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Bridgton Hospital and Rumford Hospital, is closing facilities in Auburn and Mechanic Falls in a cost-cutting step that will eliminate 31 jobs.

The Lewiston Sun Journal reported that CMHC will close an urgent care facility in Auburn in about a month and a clinic in Mechanic Falls in September as part of its overall effort to reduce costs. Both facilities, the newspaper reported, were losing money.

CMHC CEO Jeff Brickman told the newspaper the job reductions — which include nine physicians — would reduce the health system's expenses by 8% to 10%.

Brickman became president and CEO of CMHC last September, replacing Peter E. Chalke, who had announced his retirement earlier in the year.

Three months later, Brickman hired Illinois-based consulting firm Kaufman Hall to develop a plan for the hospital system's future in the face of a significant budgetary shortfall in 2016, telling the Sun Journal, at that time, that he was working diligently "to make sure that we can sustain this organization for the long term."

CMHC is one of Androscoggin County's largest employers, with about 4,200 employees at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, hospitals in Rumford and Bridgton, the Dempsey Center, the Central Maine Heart and Vascular Institute and medical practices throughout central, western and mid-coast Maine.

Moody's downgrades Eastern Maine Health Services (EMHS), bond rating

Moody's Investor Services downgraded the credit rating of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, to "Ba1", with a negative outlook.

Brewer-based EMHS, an integrated health delivery system with a workforce of more than 12,000 and nine hospitals throughout the state, including Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and numerous smaller rural hospitals, issued the following statement Wednesday about the downgrade:

"Moody's informed EMHS earlier this year that a downgrade from Baa3 was being considered. Last month, EMHS senior leadership met with representatives of Moody's in New York and discussed the system's improved financial performance while also revealing a solid plan for continued improvement.

"These are challenging times for healthcare providers, both in Maine and throughout our nation. EMHS' proactive five-year strategy is both innovative and forward-thinking. EMHS is building an enterprise-wide electronic medical records system, organizing our more than a thousand employed providers into a single medical group, and continuing to advance our successful population health strategy. EMHS also continues to optimize the performance of our newest member hospitals, which were brought into the system experiencing multiple years of financial distress. Time and hard decisions have led to improved operations and we expect that trend will continue. EMHS believes that these initiatives are essential to the future of a high-performing healthcare organization serving the state of Maine. EMHS leadership remains confident in our ability to deliver increasingly positive outcomes in the months and years ahead.

"While EMHS is disappointed with Moody's decision, it will not affect care delivery, business operations, or our ongoing focus on performance improvement. Additionally, while EMHS has no plans to enter the bond market for any additional debt for the foreseeable future, we look forward to revisiting our rating with Moody's next year."
Congressman Bruce Poliquin, Maine's Second District

Congressman Poliquin must stop hiding from his wrong minded AHCA vote and express outrage at the closing of Central Maine Health Care's urgent care access. Moreover, there must be a supportive statement from Congressman Poliquin, to counter the downgraded Moody's rating. Unfortunately, neither of these responses has been forthcoming, thus far.

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