Public Employee Press
Union wins fairer funding for NYC H+H
By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
The union scored a major victory when Albany lawmakers enacted a budget that defines safety net hospitals.
This move makes NYC Health+Hospitals eligible for a fairer share of Medicaid reimbursements and spares MetroPlus Health Plan from a $200 million cut.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the $168.3 billion state budget on March 30. A significant part of the new budget is dedicated to health care, specifically Medicaid.
“For more than ten years DC 37 and a coalition of unions and public health-care advocates have fought to convince lawmakers to save our safety net hospitals,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “In our city, NYC Health+Hospitals shoulders a far greater number of Medicaid and uninsured patients than do private hospitals — and incurs massive debts doing so. Now we have new language added to the budget that defines and allocates monies for safety net hospitals like NYC H+H and critical access facilities throughout New York State.”
“Finally, we see light at the end of the tunnel for NYC H+H and its dedicated workforce,” Garrido said. “Lawmakers have acted to make sure the Medicaid funds follow Medicaid patients. And Metroplus funding, where 350 Local 1549 members work enrolling New Yorkers in health insurance plans, averts a crippling $200 million cut.”
Local 1549 2nd Vice President Ralph Palladino, a Bellevue Hospital employee for 37 years, said the new budget brings some relief. “We faced staff reductions that would have hindered NYC H+H in converting uninsured patients to insured,” he said. “Getting a fairer share of the health care funding H+H deserves means the agency can meet payroll and avoid jobs and services cuts.”
“This new budget corrects past inequities, and holds that hospitals that meet a “true safety net” standard will receive their fair share of financial support and available resources,” said DC 37’s Director of Field Operations Barbara Edmonds.
Health care fund established
The fiscal year 2019 state budget also establishes a health care transformation fund contingent on the sale of Fidelis, a nonprofit Medicaid managed health care plan, to for-profit insurer Centene.
The sale would generate billions of dollars for a flexible fund to support future health care delivery, capital improvements, and debt restructuring of health-care providers.
“This is no small moral victory in terms of ideology and mission,” said Garrido.
“We thank our friends at City Hall and in Albany for doing right by NYC Health + Hospitals and the people who rely on its vast network for quality health care,” he said.