Elected Officials Denounce Bush Plan to Cut HHC Funds
|(L-R) City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, HHC President Alan D. Aviles, Congressman Charles B. Rangel
U.S. Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer, as well as Congressman Charles Rangel and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn have all moved quickly to oppose the budget and regulatory changes proposed by President George Bush that would cut Medicaid and Medicare funding and cost the city’s public hospitals more than $350 million in federal support.
“As elected officials in the City of New York, we are deeply concerned about your proposed changes to the way the federal government funds the Medicaid program. These unprecedented changes will have a sweeping and devastating effect on our City’s public hospital system,” stated the January 27 letter signed by 32 members of the Council and NY Congressional Delegation.
The President’s proposals would cap the federal government’s Medicaid payments to public health care providers across the country. Federal officials said the money would be shifted into grants to help enroll more uninsured into private health insurance plans.
“How can a great nation like ours explain that we can’t take care of our own,” said Congressman Rangel, who vowed to exercise the influence of his new role as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to advert the proposed cuts. “It is embarrassing we have to do this.”
HHC President Alan D. Aviles, who joined the elected officials, said, “It seems contradictory for the federal administration to profess a commitment to addressing the crisis of the uninsured in this country while at the same time proposing to strip nearly $4 billion from the nation’s safety net public hospitals. For many of the uninsured in this nation, public hospitals – like those here in New York City – are the next best thing to true universal healthcare coverage.”
Lending a patient’s voice to the public opposition to the President’s plan, Gloria Thomas, a member of the Harlem Hospital Community Advisory Board, talked about how she and members of her family rely on HHC.
“HHC is not just for the poor. The middle class would also be hurt by these proposed cuts,’ said Thomas. “I have health insurance and I chose to go to Harlem because that’s where I know I’ll get the very best, quality health care my family and I need.”