FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 27, 2014
HHC President Dr. Ram Raju Testifies at City Council Executive Budget Hearing
New York, NY – Dr. Ram Raju, President and CEO of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), testified at the New York City Council Executive Budget hearing today, emphasizing for the Council Members the financial priorities of the $6.7 billion municipal healthcare system, his vision for HHC as a leader in healthcare reform transformation and his plans to focus on reducing healthcare disparities while expanding access to care for all New Yorkers.
"We are an essential part of New York City's health care infrastructure. We are an integrated healthcare delivery system offering comprehensive high quality health, behavioral health, long term care and home care services with a wide variety of access points from small neighborhood centers to large acute care hospitals and long term care facilities. Our health plan, MetroPlus, is perennially ranked at the top by the New York State Department of Health in terms of quality and customer satisfaction. HHC is an industry leader in language access services and culturally competent care.
"However we cannot rest on these laurels. HHC and other healthcare providers at all levels in New York City must do more. We must focus on reducing healthcare disparities while expanding access to care. Disparities unfortunately persist across racial, ethnic, language, and economic basis. They also exist along the basis of gender identity, age, sexual orientation, immigration status and for individuals with disabilities. All providers need to step up their efforts to be inclusionary rather than perpetuate care that is exclusionary. At the same time, we must expand access to care in the traditional sense of extending hours and capacity. And, we must also eliminate barriers that deter or make it difficult for people to consistently access the care they need," Dr. Raju told the Council members.
Dr. Raju focused his testimony on the importance of the State Medicaid Waiver, securing FEMA funds to help the Sandy recovery and mitigation, how the HHC healthplan, MetroPlus, will help generate new market share, and the importance of partnerships among healthcare providers and the community.
HHC also announced today that the plan for a dialysis services joint venture would be postponed indefinitely.
"I commend Health and Hospitals Corporation President Dr. Ram Raju for his leadership in strengthening HHC hospitals and medical care centers which provide healthcare to thousands of New Yorkers," said Public Advocate Latitia James. "Through maximizing safety net funding, outlining a corrective budgetary action plan, and increasing MetroPlus health insurance customers, HHC is building a system that can more efficiently address the needs of New York residents seeking care in a changing environment. I specifically want to commend HHC for postponing the plan to privatize dialysis services."
FEMA Funding for Sandy Damages and Future Storm Mitigation
HHC continues to seek reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for losses suffered during Hurricane Sandy and for hazard mitigation to better prepare HHC facilities for future storms. HHC requested $137.5 million reimbursement for damages related to Sandy, and to date has received $65 million in FEMA reimbursement. HHC is also seeking from FEMA approximately $1 billion to make infrastructure improvements at Bellevue Hospital Center, Coney Island Hospital, Coler Specialty Hospital and Metropolitan Hospital that would better mitigate the effects of future storms at those facilities.
1115 Medicaid Waiver
To take advantage of funding available through the New York State 1115 Medicaid waiver, HHC last week submitted a letter of intent, which is being considered by the State, proposing to to build the required partnerships with other healthcare and community providers and form 4 to 6 Performing Provider Systems (PPSs). HHC also intends to apply, and expects to receive a significant part of the $250 million available for Interim Access Assurance Funds (IAAF), which are available to support public hospitals who are in financial strain.
Over 90,000 New Yorkers who enrolled for health insurance through the State's online health insurance marketplace have selected MetroPlus, HHC's health insurance plan, as their health insurance of choice. HHC views MetroPlus as a primary means of increasing HHC's market share and improving HHC's overall financial health. "The premiums MetroPlus receives for these newly insured individuals will generate increased net revenue for HHC hat can be used to reinvest in service capacity," said Dr. Raju.
Improving Access to Care for Patients With Disabilities
Last year the City Council appropriated $2.5 million in capital funding for FY 2014 and another $2.5 million for FY 2015 to improve access at HHC facilities for women with disabilities. The funds will be used to make renovations and purchase equipment to make exam rooms and other areas more accessible. The first phase of preliminary design work is almost complete for upgrades at eight HHC facilities. Construction is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2014.
HHC Budget Gap
HHC's total expenses in the 2015 Executive Budget are projected to be $6.9 billion with total revenue projected at $6.7 billion, a $200 million gap. The gap is projected to grow to $833 million in Fiscal Year 2016, and $1.36 billion on Fiscal Year 2018. Dr. Raju detailed HHC's corrective action plan for its budget, which achieves savings through several strategies, including: obtaining Federally Qualified Health Center status for HHC's six Diagnostic & Treatment Centers; implementation of a central laboratory joint venture with North Shore/Long Island Jewish health system; improved environmental service initiatives; decreased pharmaceutical costs through the Federal 340 B drug program, greater purchasing efficiencies through a new centralized procurement process implemented this year; and an additional $400 million in savings from State and Federal actions, including DSRIP and IAAF funding.