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We must bring absurdly high hospital costs under control

As a Connecticut-based small business owner, I struggle with healthcare affordability. That’s why I firmly believe that now more than ever, we need better solutions to address rising costs. And, that can only be done by acknowledging the elephant in the room – the role that hospitals are playing in driving up those costs.

Agustin Sevillano

Our state’s economy has suffered the slowest rate of post-recession job growth in New England and consistently ranks as one of the most expensive states to do business in nationwide.

To get our state’s economy on the right track, beating back rising healthcare costs must play a pivotal role. The research is pretty clear: Over the past 15 years, healthcare costs have increased by more than 75 percent, far outpacing the growth rate of our state’s economy.

A critical data point is that per capita spending on healthcare in Connecticut is one of the highest in the country, averaging more than $9,000 annually.

And, that’s not helped by the fact that healthcare costs are only increasing, in large part because hospitals continue to raise their prices with little to no improvement to the quality of care delivered to the citizens of our state.

To add insult to injury, USA Today recently reported that 64 percent of Americans avoid medical care because of surprise medical bills, which hospitals throw at unsuspecting patients when they receive care outside of their insurance network. An increasingly lucrative practice for these health systems, driven behind-the-scenes by private equity interests.

The whole point of healthcare is to help people live healthier lives, and medical providers take an oath to “do no harm.” Unfortunately, the increasing costs charged by hospitals only ends up harming patients and their families while benefiting well-paid hospital executives. It makes you wonder whose health they’re really concerned with.

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and unprecedented job losses, “business as usual” from these health systems is more than just absurd. It’s immoral.

Policymakers in Hartford need to find a better way forward on healthcare affordability and getting absurdly high hospital costs under control. By working together – taking the best of the private and public sectors – I’m hopeful that a solution exists to lower healthcare costs for everyone in Connecticut.

Agustin Sevillano is an attorney in Bridgeport.

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