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Public Employee Press

$360 million secured for underfunded public hospitals


DC 37 and the New York AFL-CIO convinced Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Oct. 13 to release federal funds for financially troubled NYC Health+Hospitals, which faced the prospect of failing to meet its payroll in about two weeks.

Before the agreement, Cuomo had held on to the $380 million in Medicaid funding because of the budget uncertainty in Washington, D.C. The NYC H+H administration believes federal aid for the city’s public hospitals could be cut by as much as $1.1 billion.

In a joint statement, DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido and New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento expressed support for the Cuomo administration’s plan to release three monthly payments of $120 million in federal funds before the end of the year.

“The State of New York has been working diligently to find ways to handle the cuts without affecting staffing levels and patient care, and today the state has managed to assure NYC H+H that they have the necessary funds to operate effectively,” Garrido and Cilento said in their Oct. 13 statement.

The agreement came after Garrido and Cilento met with Cuomo in Albany and remained in contact with the governor throughout the day. In the late afternoon, the Cuomo administration informed DC 37 and the New York State AFL-CIO of its decision to allocate the $360 million. Subsequently, Cuomo released about $120 million in additional funds.

In recent weeks, members were on edge because of federal cuts, rumors of layoffs and the possibility that NYC H+H would be unable to meet its payroll. Garrido and Cilento acknowledged the anxiety of NYC H+H employees in their statement.

“As the federal government continues its assault on the working families of this nation, recent federal cuts to health care have roiled New York State’s hospital system, causing employees to fear for their jobs and leaving patients concerned about the future of their care,” the joint statement said.

In an Oct. 13 letter to Stanley Brezenoff, the interim president and CEO of NYC H+H, the hospital system’s Medicaid director, Jason A. Helgerson, said the U.S. Congress’s failure to meet the Oct. 1 deadline for restoring funds had caused a $2.6 billion budget gap at the state’s public hospitals.

While Garrido and Cilento expressed their relief about the restoration of the federal funds, they said they continue to be deeply worried about future health-care cuts by the federal government.

“Given that we don’t expect the federal assault to end anytime soon, we must work together to stop these wrongheaded policies, but today we have taken one step closer to ensuring that NYC H+H may continue to serve NYC’s most vulnerable patients,” Garrido and Cilento said.