Hospitals warn of devastating consequences of cutting funds

SARANAC LAKE The proposed state and federal budgets could have a disastrous impact on local health care services. Health care officials across the state are warning of serious consequences if hospital funding is cut. The Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) released an analysis showing how New York State Hospitals could lose $9.9 billion over a five-year period under the proposed budgets of Gov. Eliot Spitzer and President George Bush. President Bushs 2008 budget would reduce payments to hospitals and other providers by $7.5 billion over the next five years, including $2.8 billion in Medicare cuts and an additional $4.7 billion in cuts to Medicaid payments. Under Spitzers 2007-2008 Executive Budget plan, hospitals in New York State would lose $2.4 billion over the next five years as a result of across-the-board Medicaid funding cuts. This is a double-barrel shotgun taking direct aim at our health care system, said Adirondack Medical Center Spokesman Joe Riccio. Under the proposed budget, AMC would lose about $2.2 million in the next five years. Moses-Ludington Hospital in Ticonderoga stands to lose $313,000 from state budget cuts alone. The cut to Heritage Commons Nursing Home would be a loss of $61,000. The cut in the federal budget would be $74,000 over five years. These cuts would be a big blow to our community, said Kevin Haughney, Interlake Healths Chief Executive Officer. They could lead to a loss of health services something we already have a shortage of in our rural area. Elizabethtown Community Hospital (ECH) would lose $147,000 from the state in the first year, and $696,000 over five years from the state and federal funding. ECH administrator Rodney Boula warned that balancing the budget by cutting health care would hurt not only the facilities, but patients as well. It will be increasingly harder for patients to find a place to be treated and make it much more difficult for hospitals to reinvest in the care that they provide, said Boula. Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital Medical Center Spokesman Mike Hildebran called the proposal devastating. CVPH could lose $10 million in five years due to the state and federal funds. Were very disappointed at both the state and federal level - rather than attempting meaningful reform, there's nothing more than cost shifting, said Hildebran. He predicted the loss of Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements could be shifted onto private insurance, causing a hike in rates. When the government tells you they are going to pay you less for the services you provide, you end up passing that on to private insurance companies, said Hildebran. Theres no two ways about it - somebody has to pay to keep the lights on. Riccio and Hildebran both said hospital officials planned to make a lot of noise, including lobbying state and federal representatives to stress the potential impact of funding cuts.

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