The proposed partnership between the University of Connecticut Health Center and Hartford Hospital could generate 18,200 jobs and $3.28 billion in new individual income by 2040, according to a study by the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at UConn.
"This is a desperately needed economic engine for the region," said Fred Carstensen, the center's director and a UConn economics professor.
The findings will be presented during a public hearing today as lawmakers consider the proposal, which is intended to stabilize the financially troubled Health Center and is expected to cost the state $605 million over 10 years.
The proposal calls for creating a "University Hospital" with campuses in Hartford and Farmington, with a new $475 million hospital to replace the outdated John Dempsey Hospital. Hartford Hospital would take responsibility for any future deficits that the Health Center runs, but the state would be responsible for the cost of the new hospital and an estimated $13 million in annual labor costs.
UConn leaders say the proposal is the best hope for the Health Center, which includes Dempsey, UConn's medical and dental schools and research laboratories. Some lawmakers have expressed support, while others have questioned whether the state can afford the cost of a new hospital.
Carstensen said that the proposal could help counteract a two-decade economic decline in the state, which is experiencing a diminishing working-age population and losing the highest-skilled, highest-paid young people to other states. Investing in an academic medical center would be especially wise because medical jobs are not likely to be outsourced, he said.
According to the report, building a new hospital and expanding the medical and dental schools would generate 2,688 jobs by 2020 and 4,557 by 2040. But the report says that doing that along with the Hartford Hospital partnership, a collaboration with other area hospitals and having vastly expanded research funding to become a top 20 university medical research center would pay far greater dividends, creating 8,229 jobs by 2020 and 18,200 by 2040, and generating $717 million in personal income by 2020 and $3.28 billion a year by 2040.
By 2035, the expected end-date for the bonds on the new hospital, the proposed plan would generate $904 million in new net tax revenues for the state, according to the report.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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