Nurses — and Health Administrators — Call for ‘Medicaid Equity’

By David J. Glenn

1189 SEIU organizer Tom McIntyre looks over a pamphlet publicizing Thursday’s rally. (Photo by David Glenn/Hamodia)

Even though the sun was shining in Brooklyn on Thursday afternoon, nurses at several hospitals and nursing homes around the borough declared at rallies, “It’s raining!”

“Governor Hochul has a $40 billion surplus which she says she’s saving for a rainy day,” union 1189 SEIU (Service Employees International Union) organizer Tom McIntyre told nurses rallying In front of Maimonides Medical Center, “Well, It’s raining now!”

The union — unusually locking arms with hospital and nursing home administrations — is calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to release a portion of the surplus to cover what it says is 30 percent of hospital costs that Medicaid doesn’t cover.

This has caused many facilities to cut back on staff, or even face closure, McIntyre said.

The nurses — who came in groups of about 20 during staggered lunch and coffee breaks — held signs stating, “Close the Medicaid gap!” and “We need the funding!”

McIntyre told Hamodia that about 85 percent of patients at most Brooklyn hospitals are on Medicaid, compared to fewer than 20 percent at many large Manhattan facilities, which have a greater share of private-pay patients.

Maimonides CEO Ken Gibbs addressed the rally, telling the nurses that “the disparity” in Medicaid funding must be corrected.

“We support today’s action,” Gibbs told Hamodia. “1199 and GNYHA (Greater New York Hospital Administration) are fighting for greater equity and equal access to health care for all New Yorkers. It’s not only fair, it’s important work.

“Our employees advocated today for protecting vulnerable New Yorkers and we are extremely proud of them.”

McIntyre stressed that the union is proposing that the Medicaid coverage be raised up in increments, leading to 100 percent coverage, in his words, ”Medicaid Equity,” by 2028.

Gov. Hochul’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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