Hosps rage over $380M
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.