Hospitals face new funding cuts

06/17/2010 12:00 AM |

The East End’s three hospitals will lose $557,000 in the latest round of budget cuts passed Monday night by the state Legislature to keep the government from shutting down.

The so-called extender package approved Monday is the 11th since April 1, when the state, as usual, failed to adopt an on-time budget.

The extension pays for state operations only through June 20, when another would be necessary, unless a budget agreement is reached.

Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead takes the largest hit of the three East End hospitals, with $220,000 in new cuts. Southampton Hospital is losing $169,000 and Eastern Long Island Hospital $168,000.

Added to state losses is a cut in federal funds that results from what East End Health Alliance spokesman Andrew Mitchell called “the multiplier.” When the state cuts funds, he explained in an interview on Friday, it affects Medicaid reimbursements from the federal government, which purposely made more money available to hospitals to offset some of the effects of the recession. New York State’s action is “diametrically opposed” to the federal effort, Mr. Mitchell said.

What’s more, he said, these latest cuts build upon cuts the hospitals have had to absorb for several years. There’s no clear indication of how much money the hospitals will lose in the year ahead, he said. Gov. David Paterson indicated in this latest extender proposal — the first to contain major budget cuts — that he would continue to implement cuts included in his budget proposal in future packages if a budget agreement isn’t reached.

If you’re not a Medicaid patient and think you’re unaffected by these cuts, you’re wrong, Mr. Mitchell said. Every patient will have to pay the price for the cuts in the form ofreduced staffing and even an end to specific hospital programs. That could work in a city where there are many hospitals offering similar services, Mr. Mitchell said. But on the rural East End, it could force patients to seek treatment for some illnesses a long distance from home, he said.

At Peconic Bay Medical Center, where Mr. Mitchell is president and CEO, he hasn’t yet begun to assess where cuts might be made, but there’s no fat to be cut, so the hospital will have to look at programs and personnel, he said.

“We’re still in a wait-and-see position,” Mr. Mitchell said.

He had harsh words for Gov. Paterson and state legislators who refused to allow any opportunity for hospital officials to discuss the cuts with lawmakers.

“Essentially, the governor held a gun to everybody’s head,” he said, by ordering three quarters of a billion dollars cut this week to keep the state from shutting down.

“We’re not insensitive to budget issues and the economy,” Mr. Mitchell said. No one thought there wouldn’t be cuts in health care, he said.

“But it’s fundamentally wrong” to ignore the process of discussing proposed cuts, he said. In the absence of state money, the hospitals still have to function and they can’t turn uninsured patients away from their emergency rooms, Mr. Mitchell said. With so many people who have lost jobs in this economy, many don’t have health insurance coverage, further burdening the hospitals that treat them, he said.

The governor and legislators have been concentrating on balancing the budget only by cutting costs and that doesn’t work, Mr. Mitchell said. They need to also focus on revenue growth and a state stimulus package to foster job creation, he said.

“That seems completely absent in this discussion,” Mr. Mitchell said.

Because of the aging population, health care is one of the largest growth industries on the East End, with the three hospitals collectively operating as one of the area’s largest employers. If the hospitals are forced to make major cuts in personnel, Mr. Mitchell said, that will certainly have an adverse impact on the local economy.

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6 Comment

  • Tha article says that neither he nor Altshuler are challenging the military ballots.

  • you’re a moron!

  • Who’s in charge of these counts – Alec Baldwin?

  • Bishop stands for Cap and Tax as well as Universal Healthcare. i have a hard time believing that anyone who stands with Nancy Pelosi 95% of the time could speak for LI. Bishop needs to go, maybe I’ll have hope for us if Altshuler wins

  • LETS GO RANDY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Bradford, you’re a moron! By the way, what kind of name is Bradford? Bishop, nor Obama, are not Socialist’s. You are just an ignorant, gullible, FOX watching fool, that has been Brainwashed. If you have a brain at all! Bishop, and the Democrats are for fairness! I guess you are against Medicare and the VA? Now, those are 2 examples of government health care, that are very popular with the public. The Vets I have met, love Congressman Bishop, because he helped them, and has a strong commitment to them. They are heroes, and he knows that. For instance, you probably don’t know that he supported the 2nd GI Bill of Rights.

    Health care Reform, put needed restrictions on the real “Death Panels”, the insurance companies. They denied people procedure, tests and treatments. Due to the Heath care Law, a person can NOT be kicked off their insurance when they get sick. There are no annual limits, no lifetime limits. If a person, get cancer, they could blow through their benefits with in 2 years. Young Adults can stay on their parents plan until the age of 26. The law helps Small Business by giving them tax credits, to help them afford to give their employees health care. It also creates pools for people who are uninsured, and for businesses to shop around to get the best deal, until the Health care Exchanges go into effect in 2014 . The law also stops insurance companies from denying children with pre-existing conditions health care coverage. With in the next to years, no American with a pre-existing condition will be able to be denied health care because they have a pre-existing condition.

    You’re probably one of those T-Bager’s, who’s uninsured? You should look into it the the pool for the uninsured. Before the law was passed there were 45 Million Americans with out health insurance, and these are not Welfare recipicients. They get Medicaid. The 45 Million Americans, are people who work, and contribute to this country, but can NOT afford the high price of Health insurance. This law will help to correct some of the injustices the insurance companies have done to hard working people.

    Call Congressman Bishop, though he is a little busy at the moment, or one of the 2 U.S. Senators, that you probably also voted against.