Late last year, the state of Connecticut implemented a deeply flawed 6 percent tax on same-day surgical procedures at ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) throughout the state. Data show that this tax will reduce patients’ access to the high quality, cost-effective, community-base surgical care.
An estimated 25 percent of ASCs in Connecticut are projected to operate at a loss as a direct result of this new provider tax. If centers close, patients will be forced to leave their community-based ASCs to seek care in hospital outpatient surgery departments where costs are higher for the patient, the employer and the taxpayer. It simply doesn’t make sense to tax the entity that actually saves health care dollars.
A tax that limits access to ASCs is bad for patients across the state. First, it increases out-of-pocket costs for patients through higher deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance. Second, it means longer wait times and delays in care that often occur in hospital setting, yet rarely occur in the convenient ASC setting.
Further, data show that patients highly value care provided in the ASC setting and strongly oppose this tax. One statewide poll found that more than 80 percent of Connecticut voters disapprove of the 6 percent tax on same-day surgery services.
Luckily, bipartisan lawmakers in the General Assembly support legislative options for repealing the tax. These lawmakers should be applauded for recognizing that this flawed policy harms patients and increases state health care costs over time.
I urge lawmakers to pass repeal legislation immediately. It’s time for Connecticut to do away with this egregious tax and save our community-based surgical centers.
John G. Lunt, MD, Hand Center at Danbury Orthopedics, Danbury