Feb. 25, 2009: Wrong approach will be costly for NY

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To The Editor:
As a New Yorker, I understand the severity of the deficit that the state faces. As the Chief Executive Officer of Margaretville Hospital and Mountainside Residential Care Center, I am acutely aware of the tremendous harm that will come to patients and health care providers if Governor Paterson’s cuts and taxes are enacted.
There are things in our health care system that need reform, but the Governor’s proposals are the wrong approach. The harshness of the $2.3 billion in cuts and taxes, and hundreds of millions more in redistributions would lead to hospital, nursing home and health care agency cutbacks and closures. Most of these will happen in communities that cannot withstand the reductions in health care resources, services and jobs.
It is critically important that the Legislature act to ensure that the federal Medicaid funding New York receives from the stimulus package be used only for the Medicaid program. This funding must be used to offset the cuts proposed in the Governor’s Executive Budget.
Health care providers have already endured two previous rounds of health care cuts in the current fiscal year. Those cuts have reduced funding by nearly $1 billion. New cuts and taxes will effectively cripple New York’s health care system, jeopardizing life-saving care for millions of vulnerable New Yorkers, especially the elderly, disabled, and very young, who most rely on Medicaid to access essential services.
Health care administrators, trustees, nurses, and other front line staff see first hand how government decisions affect patients. We know how these proposals would affect our institution’s ability to continue to provide needed health care services in our community.
Ironically, the Governor’s proposals would undercut his own commendable goal of expanding outpatient care. Hospitals provide a significant portion of outpatient care, but do so by subsidizing these money-losing services with inpatient revenue. By cutting inpatient reimbursement, the Governor will harm inpatient and outpatient care.
Coming during a severe economic downturn and the intense economic strain that health care providers already face, the cuts and taxes would be especially damaging because of the increased number of uninsured New Yorkers seeking care in emergency rooms or hospital outpatient clinics.
Please contact the Governor or your legislators to let them know your view on this important topic. Additional information is available by going to saveourhospital.org.

Edmond Morache, CEO
Margaretville Hospital