Woodhull’s Budget Woes

Woodhull Medical Center is attempting to absorb an estimated $2.8 million in new cuts in the wake of an $8.2 billion gap in the state’s fiscal year.

Legislative officials and community advisory board members pondered proposed cuts at a legislative breakfast at Woodhull Hospital (760 Broadway) on February 5 as hospital administrators put on a brave face for what could be a reduction in services.

“Woodhull hospital offers many essential services that our community cannot afford to lose,” said Council member Steve Levin (D-Williamsburg) who attended the breakfast. “I will work with my fellow elected officials, especially on the state and federal levels, to help ameliorate the numerous financial hurdles and budgetary issues that Woodhull hospital currently faces.”

If the proposed cuts are adopted by the state later this year, the Health and Hospitals Corporation stands to lose between $78 million and $94 million in the 2010-2010 state fiscal year, with the North Brooklyn Health Network accounting for $2.83 million of that number. Over the past three years, HHC has absorbed $240 million in cuts and the corporation faces a $1 billion gap in its budget next year.

According to HHC officials, the city would likely prepare to reduce payments related to preventable conditions and readmissions, cuts medicaid managed care and Family Health Plus premiums for 1.7 percent, but prevent significant cuts to nursing home care through budgeting extensions and pricing system delays. These decisions would come in addition to staff hiring freezes, capital program postponements, and clinic closures that have occurred systemwide.

“As we face the financial challenges presented by New York State’s growing budget deficit, we are committed to providing quality health care to the communities of North Brooklyn and continuing to launch innovative services such as our Geriatric Wellness Center,” said Iris R. Jimenez Hernandez, Senior Vice President of the Woodhull North Brooklyn Health Network.

In 2009, HHC has served 1.3 million patients, including 452,000 patients, at a cost of approximately $850,000, and provided health services in more than 5 million outpatient visits at a cost of $900 million. Of HHC patients, 75 percent are low income, 50 percent have Medicaid and 25 percent are uninsured.

Woodhull officials are encouraging state legislators to not impose any Medicaid cuts on public hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies while extending current state authorization for a minimum of the additional $300 million in disproportionate share hospital (DSH) funding that HHC received and use any increased funds that may come through Congress’ jobs bills to address HHC’s budget deficits.

“There is no cost to the State for doing this. The city of New York will provide the matching funds to draw down federal funds,” said John Jurenko, Senior Assistant Vice President, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.