The growth in the number of patients who lack health insurance comes at a time when HHC, the nation’s largest public healthcare safety net system, has already absorbed significant state Medicaid budget cuts and is facing additional proposed cuts to the federal Medicaid and Medicare dollars that help HHC meet its mission to care for all New Yorkers regardless of ability to pay or immigration status.
“The economic downturn is dramatically increasing the number of individuals with no health insurance who rely on our services. At the same time, it is driving the healthcare funding cuts that seriously threaten our ability to carry out our mission to care equally for the poor, the uninsured, and the recently unemployed,” said HHC President Alan D. Aviles.
The higher demand for HHC services comes at a time when the city's public health care safety net system has already absorbed $500 million in annual Medicaid revenue cuts as a result of three successive years of state budget reductions. In addition, HHC faces significant reductions to Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funding beginning with an estimated $50 million cut included in the Affordable Care Act effective in federal Fiscal Year 2014, which starts on October 1, 2013. The Medicaid DSH cuts currently in effect through 2021 will result in an estimated total loss of $2.3 billion to HHC. Still more Medicare and Medicaid cuts have been proposed in Congress and by President Obama and may be enacted later this year.
“My husband was diagnosed with a terminal cancer. He lost his job. And we had no health insurance,” said Rosa, who asked that her real name not be used. “I don’t know what our family would have done without the attention and compassionate care we received at a New York City public hospital. Our lack of insurance and immigration status was never an obstacle to their ability to care for his needs every step of the way.”
“It’s ironic that we see more and more disinvestment in our public healthcare system from our federal government at the same time that we are increasingly being recognized for innovative leadership in quality, safety, health information technology, patient-centered care, and effective management,” Aviles added. “But we remain committed to our mission and will continue to look for opportunities to reduce costs and increase efficiencies that are in our control, while we advocate for support from our city, state and federal officials who value our mission and understand what’s really at stake here.”