2008-08-15 / Editorial/Opinion

Paterson Cuts Could Mean Real Problems For Local Hospitals

On Monday, Governor David Paterson presented a plan to trim $1 billion from the state's budget this year. Paterson plans to cut pork and higher education funding, but the major cut is reserved for the Medicaid system, and that could mean real problems for thousands of Rockaway residents who use the program to provide vital health care. Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, called the cuts, which would reduce funds for hospitals, nursing homes, prescription drugs and home health care - "the single most damaging budget proposal I've ever seen in my career." He added, "We're asking the legislature to reject these cuts and not bury their heads in the sand. We're getting crushed here." Liz Sulik, the Director of External Affairs for the Peninsula Hospital Center, put it more succinctly. "[If the cuts go through} your next medical checkup will be given in a MASH tent, because there will no longer be a hospital in Rockaway." While that may sound like hyperbole from insiders connected to the health care industry, it is clear that the entire health care industry is in trouble, with doctors reeling from massive insurance costs and pressure to reduce health care costs. In light of what the industry is going through, Paterson's cut may well be the straw that broke the camel's back, and we may well have to one day travel off the peninsula to find hospital care.

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