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Union urges fairer funding to save H+H

COMMITTED TO SAVE NYC H+H: Hospitals Committee Chair Carlina Rivera met with Local 1549’s Eddie Rodriguez and Local 420’s Carmen Charles.

A new state bill could provide a lifeline to fairer funding that can save NYC’s public healthcare system, union leaders told city lawmakers last month.

“We’re counting on the City Council’s support of a three-prong measure to better fund NYC H+H,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “We need the legislature to pass and Governor Cuomo to sign into law the new enhanced safety net bill. We need a better funding formula so Medicaid dollars follow Medicaid patients. And we want the state legislature and the governor to work together to determine how the state’s $1 billion emergency healthcare shortfall fund gets spent.”

Among supporters of the proposed legislation is Carlina Rivera, who chairs the City Council’s newly-formed Hospitals Committee and spoke out in favor of the bill at recent meetings with local leaders.

NYC Health+Hospitals, the largest public healthcare system in the country, treats some 1.4 million New Yorkers regardless of their ability to pay.

DC 37 represents 18,000 of the system’s employees in Locals 154, 299, 371, 420, 436, 768, 924, 983, 1189, 1549, and 2627.

Cuomo’s executive budget proposes a $1 billion fund to offset anticipated cuts by the Trump administration. Cuomo has twice vetoed legislation to boost the public hospital funding formula.

During recent testimony before the City Council’s Health Committee, Local 1549 2nd Vice President Ralph Palladino said: “Private for-profit hospitals don’t serve the indigent and uninsured. Their CEOs, in some cases, earn million-dollar salaries. And yet, they take the lion’s share of the state funding pool that’s earmarked for indigent care. That money should go to public hospitals.”

While NYC H+H’s administrative costs are a low 3 percent, NYC H+H shoulders an $18 billion debt.

“Each year, H+H asks us to do more with less,” said Palladino, a 37-year employee of Bellevue Hospital. “Twice in 2017, H+H almost missed its weekly payroll. That leaves us, the employees, panicked. It hangs over our heads.”

Union leaders argue that public hospitals are understaffed and management relies heavily on temporary workers. Patients feel the brunt and face long waits for basic care.

“Labor has the biggest stake in making sure NYC Health+Hospitals survives and thrives,” said Garrido. “The solution is very simple. The money should follow the patients.”

“The Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program, DSRIP, is critical to reforming public health care statewide and NYC H+H specifically,” Garrido said. “We are counting on the City Council to press Albany lawmakers and Cuomo to ensure financial fairness for NYC H+H.”