HHC is a huge provider of outpatient care for New Yorkers, and that’s not going to change even as the public hospital system acts to meet its financial obligation to close a daunting, $1.2 billion budget gap.
“In meeting our financial challenges, we will close no hospitals, no patient will be turned away, and our commitment to serving the uninsured, undocumented immigrants, and the most vulnerable New Yorkers will remain intact,” HHC President Alan D. Aviles said in announcing a restructuring and cost-containment plan expected to generate $300 million in new savings.
HHC provides 5 million outpatient visits a year through its 11 hospitals, six diagnostic and treatment centers and 81 community health centers. Nearly 2 million of those visits are for primary care. In total, the 11 HHC hospitals provide about one-half of hospital-based clinic visits in New York City and 66% of all hospital-based clinic visits made by uninsured New Yorkers.
“Unlike other public hospital systems that have made severe cuts in patient services, New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corporation has developed a viable plan to ensure that any New Yorker who needs care will continue to receive it,” said Deputy Mayor Linda I. Gibbs. “Make no mistake, this targeted approach will be difficult for many, but devastating reductions have been avoided and we have preserved the integrity of a high quality system that meets its mission to serve the neediest among us.”
HHC remains committed to ensuring New Yorkers broad access to primary and specialty outpatient care despite experiencing significant losses on outpatient Medicaid reimbursement. Planned reductions to HHC outpatient clinics are limited to a small number of clinics with longstanding low utilization, poor physical conditions, and close proximity of other providers to accommodate affected patients.
Specifically, HHC will close one dental clinic and five child health clinics out of its 81 community sites later this year. All proposed site closures are subject to prior review and approval of the State Department of Health.
The clinic closures are part of the realignment of ambulatory/outpatient care services, and will yield $2.41 million of the $40 million target savings for this area.
"We will offer our patients other options to meet their healthcare needs," said Iris R. Jiménez-Hernández, Senior Vice President of the North Brooklyn Health Network, which is losing the Williamsburg Dental Clinic and the Wyckoff Child Health Clinic. “Patients may go to another health clinic or to an ambulatory care clinic in the hospital."
Niesha Summers, a resident of the Wyckoff Gardens Houses, where a child health clinic is closing, told News 12 Brooklyn that patient traffic was light at the clinic.
“It’s small. A lot of people don’t use it,” she said.
In another action meant to increase revenue in the area of ambulatory/outpatient care, HHC will seek federally-qualified health center (FQHC) status for its six large clinics, known as diagnostic and treatment centers: Cumberland, East New York, Morrisania, Renaissance, Segundo Ruiz Belvis, and Gouverneur. FQHC designation would mean higher reimbursement rates for these large clinics. The target revenue increase is $25.4 million. These large outpatient health clinics provide similar services to the federally-qualified clinics and comply with the federal requirements concerning ensuring access to uninsured, low-income patients.