Hospital in Jackman is latest to scale back medical services

MAINE GENERAL PLANS TO CLOSE JACKMAN’S 18-BED NURSING HOME IN SEPTEMBER. THAT’S ALSO WHEN IT PLANS TO STOP OFFERING OFF-HOURS HEALTH CARE SERVICES AT THE FACILITY. LOCALS WILL MOST LIKELY BE LEFT DRIVING 90 MINUTES SOUTH TO SKOWHEGAN FOR MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT EMERGENCIES. LAST MONTH, CALAIS REGIONAL HOSPITAL ANNOUNCED IT WILL STOP DELIVERING BABIES AT THE END OF THE YEAR. JEFFREY AUSTIN: THEY’RE ALL AT RISK. THE JOBS ARE AT RISK. THE SERVICES TO PEOPLE ARE AT RISK. THE BUDGET NEEDS TO LEAVE HOSPITALS ALONE. PUAL: JEFF AUSTIN IS A LOBBYIST FOR THE MAINE HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION. HE ACKNOWLEDGES THE NATURAL FACTORS HURTING LOCAL HEALTH CARE CENTERS, BUT HE SAYS BAD BUDGETS FROM THE STATE HOUSE CAN MAKE A BAD SITUTATION WORSE. JEFFREY AUSTIN: WE’RE NOT SAYING THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS TO COME IN AND CONTINUE BUSINESSES THAT OTHERWISE WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO MAKE IT, BUT WE HAVE BUSINESSES THAT CAN MAKE IT AS LONG AS THEY’RE TREATED FAIRLY IN THE BUDGET, AND RIGHT NOW, HOSPITALS HAVE NOT BEEN. FOR YEARS, THEY HAVE BEEN CUT, AND THAT’S CREATING THESE ARTIFICIAL CRISE PAUL: AUSTIN SAYS THE CURRENT BUDGET PROPOSAL SEEKS TO SLASH $60 MILLION FROM MAINE’S HOSPITALS. JEFFREY AUSTIN: THAT’S REAL MONEY. IT’S NOT LESS THAN WE EXPECT IT TO GROW; IT’S REAL CUTS. PAUL: STATE SENATOR JIM HAMPER COCHAIRS THE LEGISLATURE’S BUDGET-WRITING APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE. HE DIDN’T WANT TO TALK ON CAMERA TODAY BUT TOLD US HOSPITALS ARE ACTUALLY MAKING OUT O.K. HAVING SUCCESSFULLY LOBBIED AGAINST MANY PROPOSED CUTS IN THE STATE BUDGET. DEMOCRATIC STATE REPRESENTATIVE DREW GATTINE THE COMMITTEE’S OTHER COCHAIR, SEES THINGS DIFFERENTLY. REP. DREW GATTINE: REPUBLICANS, AGAIN, CONTINUE TO BE OBSESSED WITH FOCUSING ON TAX CUTS FOR HIGH EARNERS IN MAINE, BUT IN THE MEANTIME, WE NEED TO BE FOCUSED ON OTHER THINGS IN THIS BUDGET, SUCH AS THE IMPACTS THAT IT WOULD HAVE ON RURAL HOSPITALS AND HEALTH CARE ACROSS THE STATE. PAUL: TONIGHT’S MEETING IN JACKMAN IS SCHEDULED TO BEGIN AT 7:00. MAINEGENERAL’S COO WILL BE THERE ALONG WITH REPRESENTATIVES FROM SENATOR KING’S AND CONGRESSMAN POLIQUIN’S OFFICES.

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