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Healthy opposition: Locals, pols rally against proposed cuts to state Medicaid system

Speaking up: Healthcare big-wigs like Kenneth Raske — President of the Greater New York Hospital Association — grabbed the mic at the rally in front of Brookdale Hospital Medical Center on March 6.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Hundreds of Brooklynites rallied outside a Brownsville hospital to protest proposed multi-million-dollar cuts to the state’s Medicaid system.

Locals, staff at Brookdale Hospital, and members of health-care workers’ union 1199 SEIU gathered outside the medical center to demand Gov. Cuomo keep his hands off the more than $550 million he may siphon from the system, in order to balance a state-budget deficit created after President Trump and other Republican politicians in Washington, DC, rewrote the federal tax code in 2017.

“We can’t put a price on people’s health,” said Khari Edwards, Brookdale Hospital’s vice president of external affairs. “Our rallying cry was: ‘No more cuts! No cuts!’”

Edwards joined roughly 1,140 demonstrators at the rally outside the hospital near Rockaway Parkway and Linden Boulevard, including Borough President Adams, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel (D–East Flatbush), and the head of the Greater New York Hospital Association, who warned Cuomo’s proposed cuts would slash medical services offered to some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents, and potentially force some care providers to shutter.

“Our message is simple: no health-care cuts,” said Kenneth Raske. “New York’s safety-net hospitals have already been cut to the bone, and cannot absorb them. If these cuts happen, many hospitals would curtail vital services — and some would close their doors for good. Tens of thousands of health-care workers would lose their jobs.”

Some of the local demonstrators will take their campaign to Albany on March 19, in an attempt to convince Cuomo to strike the cuts from the executive budget he must sign by April 1, according to Edwards, who warned the proposals, if passed, will affect more than just health-care workers.

“This is not a health-care workers issue — it is literally a community issue,” he said. “I may be overstating it, but for us, the more cuts that happen, the more people that will die in the streets.”

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