NYC Health + Hospitals’ Funding Crisis

h&h

By JUDY WESSLER

Providing health care services for low income people who don’t have insurance coverage is expensive.

There are federal and state programs that provide funding to help offset the cost of this care.

But NYC Health + Hospitals does not get its fair share of state and federal funding. That’s one of the reasons the hospital system faces a never-ending budget crisis.

NYC Health + Hospitals (until recently better known as the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation) was changed through state legislation from a city agency to a public corporation in 1970. About 18,000 DC 37 members work at NYC Health+Hospitals

Despite the change in structure and leadership, the critical mission of the public health system has remained the same – providing health care to all who need it, regardless of race, ethnicity, language spoken, disability, or the ability to pay. New York City’s public health care system does not turn anyone away for lack of money, health insurance, or citizenship.

This means that the system’s hospitals, health centers, long term care facilities and more play a major role in maintaining the health of the city.  Of the 1.2 million patients receiving health care services in the city, more than 500,000 have no health insurance coverage. They are either not eligible to apply for insurance or believe that they cannot afford to pay for coverage. If a person is not eligible for Medicaid, NYC Health + Hospitals staff will put that person on a sliding fee scale called HHC Options.  Everyone agrees that the HHC Options fee scale is the best for patients who are then able to get the care they need and not go broke paying for it.

So, the city’s public health care system has an enormous responsibility. But it doesn’t receive sufficient support to be able to carry out its mission.

There is a $1 billion–plus “charity care” pool of state and federal dollars funds that is meant to follow indigent patients, pay for the cost of the uninsured, and help the hospitals with highest numbers of Medicaid patients.

But for purely political reasons, the public hospitals are now limited in how much money they can receive from this pool

As it currently stands, only $139 million is available for public hospitals and of that, only $96 million goes to NYC Health + Hospitals.

Making matters worse, the amount of federal funds going to help pay for the charity care pool will be cut in 2017, with New York State standing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars if it does not follow the targeted patients as required.

Paradoxically, there are large, private hospitals with large surpluses that are still funded by the charity care pool.

Adding insult to injury, yet another state funding source meant to help “safety net” facilities specifically excludes NYC Health + Hospitals. This is pure outright discrimination against the public New York City’s health care system and the patients who are treated by it. This hurts patient care and threatens the loss of jobs held by the dedicated work force employed by NYC Health + Hospitals.

To stop them from getting away with this, we have to make our voices heard. Every person reading this blog needs to send a strong message to the governor, their Assembly member and their state Senator.

When you are finished doing that, ask your family and everyone else that you know to do the same.

The message needs to be clear: Let’s change the current definition of “safety net” hospitals in order to ensure proper funding to the health care facilities that provide the most treatment to low-income populations.

This isn’t a complicated concept: “Charity care” funds should go to the facilities providing the most charity. And in New York, NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest single provider of care for the uninsured.

Judy Wessler is the retired director of the Commission on the Public’s Health System, a citywide community-based health advocacy group. With more than 40 years experience working in community public health, she is currently serving as the Assembly representative on the federal Medicaid waiver, Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP), Project Advisory and Oversight Panel.

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To ask your elected officials to support Fair Funding

for NYC Health+Hospitals contact:

 Gov.  Cuomo 518-474-8390 or toll free number at: 1-877-255-9417

Twitter:

 @NYGovCuomo and include the hashtag #NYGovCuomo

Senate Majority Leader Flanagan 518-455-2071

Email

Flanagan@nysenate.gov

Assembly Speaker Heastie Thank him and the Assembly for their support!

Twitter

@NYSA_Majority and include the hashtag #NYSAssembly

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1 Comment on NYC Health + Hospitals’ Funding Crisis

  1. murphyhm123 // March 24, 2016 at 1:25 am // Reply

    there should be free medical for all it shouldn’t be a luxery it should be a right

    Like

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