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Editor:

Gov. Cuomo’s proposed $1 billion in state budget cuts to New York’s hospitals and nursing homes negate the positive transformation that our health care industry is making. Efforts include advances in population health, coordinated care, and preparing for the national move toward a value-based delivery model. New York state (the only state in the nation) requires hospitals to operate as not-for-profits. Hospitals throughout upstate New York have an average operating margin of around 0.3 percent, and statewide about 1.35 percent. Hospitals in New York state are also required — by law — to treat whomever comes through their doors, regardless of ability to pay. While New York has made great strides to insure everyone, there is still a small population (less than 5 percent) who remain uninsured. Hospitals continue to treat those patients, because they must — and because it’s the right thing to do.

Statewide Medicaid only reimburses providers 73 percent. In upstate New York, Medicaid only covers 65 percent of the cost of services. Cuts to Medicaid, an already inadequate payment system to the not-for-profit industry, seem to contradict the state’s mandate that hospitals operate as not-for-profit.

Hospitals are often the only emergency services provider and main provider of primary care, as well as hold the rank of the largest single employer in almost every upstate New York community. If these cuts take effect, services, jobs and quality will inevitably deteriorate. The collapse of a rural hospital will, unfortunately, begin the collapse of an entire community.

Iroquois Healthcare Alliance, representing hospitals and health systems throughout upstate New York, strongly urges our state legislators to oppose these reductions.

Gary J. Fitzgerald, President, Iroquois Healthcare Alliance, Clifton Park

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