By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn is “Ground Zero” when it comes to New York State’s health care crisis, according to state Sen. Marty Golden, who said that what happens in the borough’s medical institutions over the next several years will set the template for health care across the rest of the state.
Hospitals are in for big changes in the delivery of health care to residents over the next several years, Golden predicted.
“The future of hospitals will change. You will see a downsizing and a changing of the mission of these hospitals,” Golden told Bay Ridge Community Council members at their annual Presidents’ Luncheon at the Bay Ridge Manor catering hall on Feb. 1. He delivered his remarks during the portion of the luncheon in which the council invites elected officials to speak to the members.
Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) did not name the hospitals he believed would have to undergo changes, but he did say that Brooklyn will likely be at the vanguard of whatever changes are coming.
“Kings County is Ground Zero when it comes to health care in New York State,” Golden, a member of the senate's Health Committee, said.
This is partly due to the borough’s large population of senior citizens, Golden said. “Brooklyn and Queens have the highest quantity of seniors in the state,” he said. The large population of older adults will drive health care costs up since seniors are far more likely to have serious medical conditions, he said.
The high costs of delivering health care are already affecting hospitals, Golden said.
Two of Brooklyn’s hospitals, Long Island College Hospital (LICH) and Interfaith Medical Center, are on life support, he said. The State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, which operates LICH, is set to decide within the next two weeks whether to take LICH off its budget, he said. “SUNY is spending $13 million a month on LICH,” Golden told community council members.
Brooklyn isn’t the only place where hospitals are bleeding money. “There are 237 distressed hospitals in New York State,” Golden said.
Southern Brooklyn is lucky in the sense that hospitals in that part of the borough are faring relatively well as compared to other medical facilities, he said. “Lutheran Medical Center and Maimonides Medical Center are doing a great job,” he said. But even those institutions could use some help, he said. “They will need some capital dollars and some operational dollars,” he said.
Lutheran Medical Center is located at 150 55th St. in Sunset Park. Maimonides Medical Center is headquartered at 4802 10th Ave. in Borough Park. Both hospitals serve patients across a wide swath of southern Brooklyn.
To help cover costs at hospitals across the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has requested a $10 billion Medicaid waiver from the federal government. “We are waiting for that Medicaid waiver,” Golden said.
Medicaid, a health care program for low income people, is funded by the federal government and the states.
This year doesn’t mark the first time the state has asked for a Medicaid waiver.
The Albany Times Union reported back in 2012 that the state requested a $17 billion waiver two years ago.
The waiver would allow the state to keep a large portion of the federal funds and reinvest the money in the Medicaid program. Golden said it would give hospitals some breathing room.