State health officials awarded $56 million to a dozen hospitals and nursing homes even as the governor repeated dire warnings Monday that some Brooklyn hospitals will close without more federal help.
The funding announced for community-based care for the poor and elderly include $10.5 million for Nassau University Medical Center on Long Island and $14.8 million for the Northeast Center for Special Care, a residential facility in the Hudson Valley. Other awards were $11.3 million for Richmond University Medical Center on Staten Island and $3.4 million for Woodhull Medical & Mental Health Center in Brooklyn.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have said that New York needs federal approval of its proposed Medicaid waiver, which would provide about $2 billion annually for five years to help struggling hospitals cut capacity and admissions amid a broad shift toward more primary medical care. That includes $1 billion for Brooklyn hospitals, which have about 1,200 excess patient beds altogether. Some have been relying on extra state money to keep operating.
“The situation is critical. It’s especially critical in Brooklyn,” Cuomo said.
The state initially requested the federal waiver 18 months ago and in the fall amended its request after some provisions, including capital investment, were deemed ineligible. “We’re at the point if we don’t get help the system is going to crash,” Cuomo said. “There will be closures and it’s not necessary.”
De Blasio, whose arrest protesting a pending hospital closure during the mayoral primary last year raised awareness both for the issue and for his own struggling campaign, said 12 city hospitals have closed over the past 12 years, leaving gaps in health care. In Brooklyn, one-quarter of residents lack access to primary care.
“The waiver is meant specifically for this type of situation,” he said.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter Wednesday that officials have begun drafting a potential agreement, but there are outstanding issues. Sebelius said the waiver, meant to improve care and cut Medicaid costs, shouldn’t determine the future of particular New York hospitals.
“Those are decisions properly left to state and local officials and affected communities,” she wrote.
Out of about 15 hospitals in Brooklyn, said state Sen. Kevin Parker, a Brooklyn Democrat, a few are in serious trouble, including Long Island College Hospital, Interfaith Medical Center and Brookdale Medical Center.