FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2015
In Public Address, Dr. Ram Raju Describes the Way Forward for Nation’s Largest Public Health Care System and Rallies Workforce to Make Patient Experience a Top Priority
Says More Satisfied Patients is Path to Securing Financial Stability, Preserve Mission
Aims to Double MetroPlus Health Plan Membership to 1 Million, Grow Consumer Base to 2 Million
(New York, NY) New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) President and CEO Ram Raju, MD, today described his vision for securing the essential role of the nation’s largest public health care system and called on HHC employees to focus on improving patient experience in order to expand access to care and the patient base, secure financial stability and preserve its mission to serve all New Yorkers without exception. Dr. Raju’s ambitious agenda aims to position HHC on a more competitive front, following two decades of transformation that produced high quality and safety achievements.
Addressing an audience of over 300 HHC employees, labor partners and other community stakeholders at John Jay College in Manhattan, Dr. Raju referred to HHC as a bold and successful experiment nearly half a century old and vowed to protect its legacy of quality, affordable, culturally responsive and geographically accessible health services. He highlighted several of HHC’s successes and challenges, including the need for new sources of revenue to replace decreasing federal funding to care for the uninsured and undocumented. And he announced new goals for 2020 to double HHC’s MetroPlus health plan membership to 1 million and increase the number of New Yorkers served by the health system from 1.4 million annually to 2 million.
“In order to continue carrying out our mission, we need financial stability. To secure that financial stability, we need to grow our patient base and serve more New Yorkers. And to grow our patient base, we need to retain the consumers we already serve and we must attract new patients and families into our healthcare system,” Dr. Raju said.
“There is one common thread that ties all these goals together. One fundamental component to make all this happen. And that’s our ability -- our singular ability -- to extend the very best experience possible to our patients and their families,” he said. “We need to own every patient’s experience. We need to put ourselves in their shoes every day, every time. And make sure we do no less than what we would expect for ourselves, for our families, for our mothers and our own children.”
Dr. Raju urged staff to build on their unique position as a diverse, compassionate workforce, and cited attitude and philosophy as the keys to improving patient experience. He called each patient interaction an opportunity to build credibility as a place where patients are treated superbly. He cited access to care as also critical, reiterating a goal to reduce wait times for adult primary care appointments by over half. He also called for continued improvement of staff training and development. “Because a positive patient experience is not possible without a positive employee experience,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli said: “New York City’s agenda for health equity greatly depends on our ability to maintain and preserve the HHC public health care system that for nearly fifty years has successfully focused on building one standard of care for all our residents. The value the system delivers reaches well beyond its open door policy for the neediest in our city and its focus on building healthy communities. It is also an essential provider of services like emergency care, trauma specialties and burn units that benefit all New Yorkers and the millions who work and visit our city.”
Jo Ivey Boufford, MD, Acting Chair of the HHC Board of Directors and President of the New York Academy of Medicine, said: "The HHC Board of Directors is strongly supportive of this plan to place HHC on firm financial footing to carry on its vital mission serving all New Yorkers regardless of ability to pay. The leadership and staff of HHC in all five boroughs are committed to assuring that the patients we serve receive the highest quality health care and that our facilities are strong partners in promoting health and wellbeing in their communities. HHC will continue to play a vital role in serving the City's most vulnerable populations and its strength in critical to the continued excellence of NYC's health care delivery system."
Anne Bove, RN, President, New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) HHC/Mayoral Executive Council, said: “HHC is the bedrock of public health throughout the country. Every day New Yorkers know that they can receive the care they need at our public hospitals and agencies – because of the nurses and caregivers who dedicate our lives to carrying out the mission of HHC to care for all patients, regardless of income, orientation or insurance status. On behalf of the 8,000 NYSNA nurses at New York City’s public hospitals, we are committed to working together to ensure that New York City’s public hospitals continue to be the best places to work and, most importantly, receive care.”
Anthony Feliciano, Director of the Commission on the Public's Health System, said: "For decades, HHC, New York City's constant safety-net provider, has been New York City’s true lifeline. Without HHC, millions of New Yorkers would have nowhere to turn. We can’t downplay the important role HHC has played as a public institution serving all New Yorkers. HHC has been the beacon New York City residents and visitors can count on in times of crisis, especially low-income, immigrant, and communities of color. We welcome the opportunity to work with HHC to improve the experience of people seeking services at any of the HHC facilities, as we strive together to improve long waits, quality of care and optimal outcomes. We encourage HHC leadership to continue to forge closer and stronger links with communities and frontline health care workers in an effort to optimize the culturally competent use of resources for the promotion and protection of individual and collective health status."
Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said: “The importance of New York City’s HHC for immigrants living here cannot be overstated. Even with the ACA, many immigrants are not able to participate in insurance because of federal exclusions on coverage and depend on HHC for high-quality, state of the art care. We applaud Dr. Raju’s efforts to ensure the financial stability of the system and look forward to many more years of partnering with HHC to ensure health access for New York City’s diverse immigrant communities.”
HHC Financial Highlights
Dr. Raju noted recent progress toward HHC’s financial stability, including receipt of $1.2 billion in Upper Payment Limit funds for services rendered to Medicaid patients for the previous four years; a $1.7 billion grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Hurricane Sandy repairs and future storm mitigation projects; and a recent move by the national credit rating agency Fitch to affirm an A+ rating on HHC bonds.
HHC is also seeking authority for the New York State Health Department to revise Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funding. The DSH program provides federal Medicaid matching dollars to states to make payments to hospitals that treat a disproportionate share of uninsured and Medicaid patients, funding that is critical to HHC’s mission to serve low-income and uninsured patients. The ACA authorizes cuts to federal DSH payments beginning in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2017, which begins October 1st, 2016. HHC estimates a potential loss of $180 million in total DSH dollars during FFY17, growing to a loss of $508 million in total dollars in FFY18 and more than $3 billion over the period from FFY17 to FFY24.
In addition, HHC patient service revenue increased 10 percent in the most recent fiscal year, and that revenue for HHC’s health plan, MetroPlus, grew six percent.