HARTFORD – Results of a new statewide poll show overwhelming opposition to an unprecedented 6 percent provider tax levied upon the state’s Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASC) effective October 1. Eighty-one percent of the 400 Connecticut voters surveyed – or 4 out of 5 – disapprove of the tax that could force a quarter of the state’s ASCs to operate at a financial loss, risking the availability of same-day surgical care in the community setting patients prefer.
Released today by Connecticut Citizens for Affordable Health Care (CCAHC) – a newly formed coalition in the process of mobilizing to preserve patient access to community-based surgical care – the poll also revealed that 67 percent of respondents are more likely to support policymakers who support repealing the tax. Alternately, more than three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents are less likely to vote for a state legislator who opposes repeal.
The polling data also reveal that Connecticut voters generally oppose increased taxes, especially taxes on healthcare services. Further, data show that opposition to the ASC provider tax spans across political affiliations, age groups and other demographics, signaling statewide voter sentiment for repeal.
“This new ‘double tax’ on our centers, which already pay sales and local property taxes, could mean closures, cutbacks, and staff layoffs, which would force patients to undergo their surgical procedures at more expensive surgery settings,” said North Haven Surgery Center’s Administrator Susan Bojka. “We are asking our elected officials to recognize the flawed nature of this tax, and promptly repeal it, for the benefit of patients, taxpayers and our healthcare system.”
Connecticut’s ASCs – which are freestanding, community-based, outpatient surgery centers – performed more than 210,000 surgical procedures in 2013. State-of-the-art technologies and infrastructure allow surgeons and staff to perform the same types of procedures that are provided in hospital outpatient departments (HOPDs) for a fraction of the cost, including orthopedic and spine, ophthalmology (eye), ear nose and throat (ENT), urology, gynecologic, pain treatment, endoscopies and colonoscopies.
The recently implemented provider tax – included within the Connecticut FY16-FY17 Biennium Budget – is particularly troubling because ASCs provide more convenient care at a lower cost. On average, Medicare and other health plans reimburse ASCs at a rate that is nearly half (55%) of the amount paid to hospital outpatient departments, allowing for significant savings to patients, health insurers, employers, and taxpayers. In fact, between 2008 and 2011, ASCs generated $7.5 billion in federal Medicare savings, translating into lower costs for patients and their families and savings to taxpayers.
“Ambulatory Surgery Centers, and the same-day care provided by their surgical teams, are incredibly important to patients across the state,” said Dr. Charles Adelmann, Medical Director of the Surgical Center of Connecticut. “The results of this poll simply reinforce what we already know – patients are happy with the cost-effective care and value we provide, and do not want to be forced into other settings or see their healthcare costs increase as a result of this onerous tax.”
The statewide poll of 400 likely general election voters was conducted by McLaughlin & Associates from October 6 through 13. Fifty percent of the interviews were conducted via telephone and 50 percent of the interviews were completed online. Interview selection was random within predetermined election units. These samples were then combined and structured to correlate with actual voter turnout in a general election. The poll has an accuracy of +/- 4.9% at a 95% interval confidence.
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