Testimony: Consolidation’s harms to stressed healthcare workers

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From Haley Magnetta, fellow at CT Health Policy Project, written testimony in support of SB-417, An Act Promoting Competition in Contracts Between Health Carriers and

Health Care Providers

I am testifying as a clinically practicing Emergency Medicine Physician Assistant (PA).

As a provider who has worked in hospitals that have been consolidated, I want to share some of the experiences, commonly referred to as “growing pains,” hospital staff endure as a consequence of consolidation. First, there are some clinicians, nurses, and other support staff that quit when it was announced that our hospital was merging into a large system.

Right now, there is a great nursing shortage in Connecticut and the rest of the country. Hospital staff such as nurses and providers have been under tremendous pressure to care for patients during the pandemic. Unfortunately, hospital mergers often lead to poorer wages and erosion of benefits because competition between hospital systems is eliminated. When there is loss of competition within the labor market, hospitals lose talent and cannot attract talent.

From personal experience, I have witnessed many great nurses leave my department because of consolidation to seek travel positions or even permanent positions out of state. Moreover, I have also witnessed providers who have trained within Connecticut’s highly respected universities, choose to leave Connecticut to practice in a state that is less consolidated and thereby offers a better variety of job opportunities as well better compensation/benefits. As a provider, I am fearful this will continue and result in some of our strongest clinicians leaving Connecticut, allowing providers and patients alike to watch the quality of care decline.

Connecticut needs to pass SB-416 to lower healthcare prices, improve quality, and protect workers. Thank you for your time and your support of quality, affordable healthcare for every state resident.