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Safety-net hospitals stretched too thin (MS)

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DIRECTING FEDERAL stimulus dollars to hospitals that care for low-income residents is the only way to compensate for the well-known inadequacy of Medicaid reimbursements to pay for true healthcare costs ("Keep health reform on track," Editorial, Feb. 16). At Boston Medical Center, essential daily health and mental health services for the city’s poorest children with the most complex needs are in grave jeopardy as the hospital is forced to drop patient care programs that other hospitals are unwilling to carry. Private donors and foundations, on life-support themselves, cannot be expected to underwrite providers’ salaries and utility bills. A perfect storm of fiscal disasters is rattling every door and window of community-based programs for low-income children at BMC and Cambridge Health Alliance. The state must have the foresight and courage to intercede, understanding that hospitals that commit to comprehensive, accessible, and often non-reimbursable services to the cities’ most vulnerable children prevent huge cost burdens for the state later. The promise of healthcare reform does not get the job done today.


The writer is a pediatric psychologist and director of the SPARK Center at Boston Medical Center, as well as assistant professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine.