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Healthcare vital to economic health of community, also

Guest Viewpoint

It's estimated that a 2 percent cut to Medicare alone would eliminate about 200,000 direct and indirect hospital jobs by 2021. These are not just new, needed jobs; but existing jobs that families rely on.

For years, hospitals have been paid less than it costs to care for Medicare and Medicaid patients. Further underfunding these programs could do real harm. And 23 percent of New York residents rely on one or both of these programs. Their need for health care won't go away simply because the program can't afford them. You don't need super-powers to recognize that the Super Committee has a great opportunity to protect our local hospitals.

The health field is hiring based on every community's growing demand for health services. Hospitals are caring for patients who are living longer with more chronic disease requiring greater levels of health care. As we continue a shift to wellness and prevention, early health interventions will become more essential - requiring more regular access to care and more health care workers. Cutting jobs handicaps our ability to plan for and provide this needed care.

I'm certain that the Super Committee is taking her/his debt-fighting task seriously. But as our country struggles between recession and recovery, we must do what we can to save the jobs we have. We need forward-looking solutions rather than hard-to-take, but easier-to-craft cuts.

Chandler Ralph is the President & CEO of Adirondack Health, and is also on the Board of Trustees for the American Hospital Association.

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