Gov's Health Care Cuts Will Adversely Impact Rockaway
Should Governor George Pataki's health care cuts stand, the two Rockaway hospitals will be in a world of trouble. According to health care experts, the Peninsula Hospital Center will lose upwards of $1,179,000 while the Episcopal Health Services (which encompasses St. Johns Episcopal Hospital South Shore in Far Rockaway as well as other health care entities) will lose approximately $4,064,000. Those cuts will be devastating. Pataki, a lame-duck Republican who plans on running for President, said that the cuts are necessary and claimed that the budget passed by the legislature "created some very real fiscal problems for New York State." The Healthcare Association of New York State, a lobbying group for hospitals, nursing homes and the like, said, "Cutting funding for hospitals, nursing homes and emergency rooms that we all rely on as a matter of life and death is not what any sensible person would call a reform." The association called for all of the healthcare cuts to be restored and began a media campaign (the governor's people call it a scare campaign) to get the public to demand the governor restore those cuts. In any case, the Legislature recently overrode the governor's veto. The governor, however, calls that override process unconstitutional. This is not a battle that is above the lives of those who live on the peninsula. In fact, the outcome might mean life and death for some Rockaway residents. Early this week, the governor and leaders of both the Senate and Assembly were attempting to work out a compromise that both could live with. That compromise would reportedly restore about half of the healthcare cuts. Perhaps legislative leaders could live with that. The question is, can local residents live with deep cuts to their health care.