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State of Missouri August 5, 2008 Election
Smart Voter

Stimulating the Economy by Supporting Our Hospitals

By Andria Danine Simckes

Candidate for State Treasurer; State of Missouri; Democratic Party

This information is provided by the candidate
Creating Jobs, and improving healthcare in rural and economically distressed area's of Missouri through public/private partnerships.
Many hospitals, especially those in rural and economically disadvantaged areas operate under tight budgetary constraints that don't permit them to obtain capital to make modernizing investments. Without such investments, hospitals could be forced to close their doors. In order to ensure their continued viability within our communities, and to guarantee they are able to deliver quality health care to patients, hospitals must have access to affordable financing.

According to a report by the Missouri Hospital Association, our hospitals generate as much as $15.9 billion per year to state and local economies. In 2006, it's estimated that our hospitals produced $1.6 billion of community benefit with a large share attributed to uncompensated care.

The increase in the total number of uninsured Missourians and the aging of our population accelerates the need to devise practical financing solutions to aid our hospitals. Two promising programs + North Carolina's Rural Hospital Project Expansion (HOPE) initiative and Pennsylvania's Hospital Enhancement Loan Program (HELP) + present opportunities for replication here in Missouri.

The Rural HOPE initiative created a capital enhancement fund to improve hospitals' abilities to obtain capital financing from private lenders. Starting with an initial investment of $2 million, the fund will enable as much as $50 million to be leveraged from private lending institutions. Monies from the fund can be used by rural hospitals to make technology improvements and update their information systems leading to improved operating efficiencies and patient care.

Another option, the Pennsylvania HELP program , also supplies more financing alternatives to hospitals in rural and economically disadvantaged areas. HELP saves hospitals money in two ways: 1) lower transaction costs and 2) reduced fees. Specifically, HELP unites hospitals with banks to benefit from composite bond offerings + a process that groups multiple hospital projects into a single bond issuance, thereby distributing the transaction costs among participating hospitals. In addition, hospitals that meet certain criteria of the HELP program, such as improved patient safety, reduced cost of patient care, improved staffing to eliminate shortages, among others will benefit borrowers who would otherwise have to pay more in fees to banks. The reduction in fees is made possible because of a $50 million investment from the Treasury to participating banks that pass on the savings to hospitals through their bond issuance.

I believe that both of these programs hold great promise for Missouri hospitals and, as Treasurer, will advance these proposals to support our hospitals access low cost capital.


Missouri Hospital Community Investment Report Highlights Hospital's Community Benefit, Economic Impact, May 1, 2008 news release,
State of North Carolina Office of Lieutenant Governor, October 5, 2007 News Release, Rural HOPE to Help North Carolina's Rural Hospitals,
Pennsylvania State Treasury, 2005 News Release, HELP Program

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