New York’s healthcare system was hit hard once again on Sunday after the federal government made budget cuts affecting New York Hospitals. Over the weekend Congress failed to continue funding Disproportionate Share Hospital payments which were funds that allowed Hospitals to cover the cost when dealing with uninsured and low-income patients. Budget officials said the cuts would result in a loss of $1.1 billion to hospitals around the state over the next 18 months, a shortfall that the state says it cannot make up because of its own looming budget deficit, estimated at about $4 billion.
New York City officials have accused the state government of withholding funds that were designated for NYC Health + Hospitals (The largest municipal public hospital system in the nation). On Friday the president of NYC Health + Hospital Stanley Brezenoff, wrote a strongly worded letter to Howard A. Zucker, the state health commissioner, voicing his bewilderment about a seeming delay in a large D.S.H. payment. Mr. Brezenoff said the state owed NYC Health + Hospitals about $380 million for services it provided to some 1.2 million patients. About a third of those patients were uninsured, Mr. Brezenoff said. Mayor De Blasio also has stated his disapproval of the state government withholding funds from the NYC Health + Hospitals. De Blasio believes that the state government is acting very dangerously, creating a precedent that should not be established. “We can maintain stability for a period of time, but if the state deprives the city of federal funds on an ongoing basis it will undermine health care in this city and we’ll have to take substantial measures to address it.”
Gov. Cuomo, on the other hand, has rebuffed both Mayor De Blasio and Stanley Brezenoff. In his statement on Friday, Mr. Cuomo suggested that New York city should fund NYC Health + Hospitals fully without the help from the state government. “New York City has a $4 billion surplus and needs to help H + H,” Mr. Cuomo said, noting that Nassau County and the State University of New York also needed to provide financial help for its hospitals. “The situation is clear,” the governor added, “the first source of financial assistance for these hospitals must be their associated local governments and SUNY.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, those funds were supposed to be reduced as more patients received insurance coverage over the years, but there is no guarantee that will happen anytime soon. Hopefully, this issue gets resolved quickly, the citizens of New York and New York City cannot afford not to have reliable healthcare services.