In Governor David A. Paterson's proposed state budget, Long Island hospitals stand to lose close to $46 million in funding. No Long Island hospital will escape unscathed, including Huntington Hospital, which is slated for $1,736,000 in cuts.
"The cuts are just proposed right now -- we don't know what the outcome will be," said Michael Fagan, vice president of finance and chief financial officer for Huntington Hospital, who said he is hopeful that the dollar figure will not be that high when the budget is passed. "I think the governor shoots for a certain number but that he can live with a lesser amount," Fagan said. However, he added, "it won't be zero."
According to Fagan, hospitals with higher percentages of Medicaid patients will be the most affected by state cuts. "Huntington Hospital's Medicaid population is about 12 to 13 percent of the patient total – which is much higher than a lot of people think," he said.
The proposed cuts come on the heels of a reduction of $180 million in Medicaid funding to Long Island hospitals since 2008. According to the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council Inc., a trade group representing Long Island's public and not-for-profit hospitals, cuts over the past few years have resulted in hundreds of layoffs, the closing of some maternity units and a significant decrease in health screenings and community educational programs.
According to Fagan, Huntington Hospital will not make any decisions about how to absorb the reduction in state funding until the final budget is passed. The state budget, which is due to be finalized April 1, is for fiscal year 2010-2011, which begins April 1 and ends March 31, 2011.
The Healthcare Association of New York State maintains a web site, www.helpyourhospital.com, in which residents can type in their zip code to find out about cuts at hospitals nearest to them. They can also click on a button on the site to send a message to their legislators about the matter.
According to the site, local hospital, nursing home, and health care providers are often major employers. Huntington Hospital is responsible for 2,840 jobs in the community.
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