Hosps rage over $380M

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY JIL­LIAN JORGENSEN

THE HEAD of the city’s strug­gling pub­lic hos­pi­tal sys­tem said the state is with­hold­ing $380 mil­lion — a move he deemed “mys­ti­fy­ing,” and the state said is nec­es­sary be­cause of an im­pend­ing cash crunch.

In a sharply worded let­ter, Health & Hos­pi­tals hon­cho Stan­ley Brezenoff said the state has not passed along fed­eral pay­ments known as “dis­pro­por­tion­ate share hos­pi­tal” funds, which, along with other fed­eral re­im­burse­ments, make up a third of the net­work’s bud­get.

That comes as Gov. Cuomo has warned that planned fed­eral cuts to the pro­gram — ex­pected to take ef­fect Sun­day — could be a dis­as­ter for the state.

“In light of the gover­nor’s re­cent pro­nounce­ments, it is mys­ti­fy­ing that ap­prox­i­mately $380 mil­lion of DSH funds — the ma­jor­ity of which we ex­pected to re­ceive months ago — is lan­guish­ing, await­ing ac­tion by the State De­part­ment of Health and the Di­vi­sion of Bud­get,” Brezenoff wrote. “Re­gret­tably, our ef­forts to en­cour­age state of­fi­cials to al­low the flow of these funds, which rep­re­sent the fed­eral and city funds, have been un­suc­cess­ful.”

The funds aren’t state money — but they must be passed on to hos­pi­tal net­works like Health & Hos­pi­tals or the State Univer­sity of New York hos­pi­tals by the state.

“The fact that the state has no fi­nan­cial stake in these pay­ments only adds to the mys­tery of these de­layed pay­ments,” Brezenoff wrote, not­ing that all vol­un­teer and ma­jor pub­lic hos­pi­tal net­works had got­ten their cash — ex­cept Health & Hos­pi­tals and SUNY.

It is yet the lat­est front on which state and city of­fi­cials have pub­licly sparred, amid con­tin­ued feud­ing be­tween Mayor de Bla­sio and Cuomo.

But state of­fi­cials in­sisted they were sim­ply be­ing fis­cally pru­dent — and while fac­ing down cuts that could amount to $330 mil­lion in the cur­rent state fis­cal year, $826 mil­lion in the next and even­tu­ally $2.6 bil­lion.

“In light of this dev­as­tat­ing fed­eral ac­tion, the De­part­ment of Health is pro­ceed­ing with a de­tailed fi­nan­cial anal­y­sis of each hos­pi­tal and their over­all con­di­tion,” Ja­son Hel­ger­son, the state Med­i­caid di­rec­tor, wrote back, say­ing KPMG had been re­tained to ad­vise on how to deal with the cuts. The cuts may re­quire a spe­cial ses­sion of the Leg­is­la­ture, he wrote, to re­work the state’s health-care bud­get.

But that an­swer did not sat­isfy City Hall.

“It makes ab­so­lutely no sense that the state would with­hold fund­ing from one year be­cause they’re an­tic­i­pat­ing cuts the next,” spokes­woman Freddi Gold­stein said. “We have an im­me­di­ate prob­lem at H&H. We don’t have months for the state to give us what we’re owed.”

Health & Hos­pi­tals has just 18 days worth of cash on hand and, af­ter pay­ing work­ers, would likely face “sig­nif­i­cant cash-flow is­sues in a few short weeks” be­cause of the “un­for­tu­nate and un­nec­es­sary de­lay,” the let­ter read.

But the state said that the $380 mil­lion at is­sue had to be man­aged care­fully due to the un­cer­tainty about the post Oct. 1 fu­ture.

The cuts are the re­sults of prob­lems with the Af­ford­able Care Act that Congress was ex­pected to fix — but has yet to take ac­tion on.

“I urge our fed­eral gov­ern­ment and con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion to do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to stop this tragedy from oc­cur­ring. This mis­sile is only 48 hours away,” Cuomo said Fri­day. “If our fed­eral del­e­ga­tion fails in stop­ping these cuts, they will hurt.”

Health & Hos­pi­tals chief Stan­ley Brezenoff (right) says the state is with­hold­ing $380 mil­lion from the sys­tem as Gov. Cuomo (be­low) says fed­eral cuts to the pro­gram are planned.

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