Unhealthy Pataki Cuts – QNS.com

Unhealthy Pataki Cuts

Governor Pataki’s recently announced 2006-2007 Executive Budget would cut funding to the public hospitals and nursing homes in New York City by $140 to $170 million.
I want to register my strongest opposition to the Governor’s proposed cuts, and urge him to put people first. I ask him to find other ways to balance our budget, not on the backs of working families and people already struggling to survive.
I ask the Governor to consider: If our hospitals aren’t healthy, how could our people be healthy?
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is a state and national leader in providing high quality health care to the most vulnerable New Yorkers. HHC facilities, which in the Borough of Queens include Queens Hospital Center and Elmhurst Hospital Center, are required under New York State law to provide health care services to New Yorkers regardless of their ability to pay.
The impact of these cuts will be far-reaching. For example, last year, nearly 5 million outpatient visits and 1 million emergency room visits were made to HHC facilities and HHC treated more than 435,000 uninsured individuals at a cost of $1.2 billion. HHC is compensated for less than one-half of these costs. As the preeminent safety net provider and public hospital system, HHC facilities would disproportionately shoulder millions of dollars in shifted costs as the numbers of uninsured or underinsured patients increase and the responsibility for care of these patients is shifted to HHC facilities.
Queens Hospital Center, which is in my Assembly District, has a sterling reputation in the health care community. Treating more than 900,000 local residents last year and applauded for taking a leadership role in the fight for early cancer detection (a vital weapon in cancer prevention and cure), Queens Hospital Center alone would lose $5.8 million if the proposals in the Executive Budget were passed.
In closing, I’ve noticed that as I traveled throughout my culturally diverse Assembly District during my 14 years in Albany, the one major concern echoed by my constituents, in every community, was the need for affordable health care. Good health, as we all know, is truly the “bottom line.” But, the State’s budget can’t be a balancing act without considering the human factor. It can’t just be about numbers, it has to be about people. That is why I ask Governor Pataki to reconsider his cuts. While we’d like a healthy economy, we must also have healthy New Yorkers to enjoy it.

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