|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 24, 2007
Medicaid Proposals Threaten Public Hospitals Mission
Statement by Alan D. Aviles, President, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation,
in response to proposed Medicaid regulations to cut federal funding that support safety net institutions
“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 that provide comprehensive healthcare for millions of uninsured Americans.
“CMS recently published proposed changes that would reduce annual funding to New York State, resulting in an estimated $350 million reduction to the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC). The administration also proposed, in the State of the Union address, to shift additional federal funds away from safety net public hospitals, threatening our mission to extend quality, affordable health care to all New Yorkers regardless of their ability to pay or immigration status.
“The proposed defunding would have a potentially devastating impact on the health of the predominately low-income communities served by public hospitals, and on the public health and safety of all New Yorkers. In New York City, these supplemental Medicaid funds help support eleven public hospital emergency departments, including six trauma centers that serve all New Yorkers. These funds also support our extensive primary care network that prioritizes prevention to keep New York City’s communities healthy and provide five million physician visits each year.
“While we support the goals of transforming the Medicaid program to be more efficient and expanding access to health care by making insurance coverage more affordable, we cannot risk destabilizing public institutions that serve millions of people. The nation’s existing healthcare safety net – which here in New York City serves 1.3 million people and nearly 400,000 uninsured, and millions more across the country -- should not be torn apart before we thoughtfully construct an alternative that provides essential healthcare access to all, including undocumented immigrants.
“After all, 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.”