With the federal government failing to deliver pandemic aid to states, nurses call for revenue to fully fund and staff NYC’s public and safety net hospitals
New York, NY — New York City’s public sector hospitals bore the brunt of the COVID-19 surge this spring. Now nurses from Bellevue and other NYC Health+Hospitals and Mayoral agencies are speaking out against proposed budget and Medicaid cuts that could harm the communities they serve and hinder the City’s response to a second potential COVID-19 surge this fall.
Earlier this week, negotiations in Congress failed to deliver a pandemic and economic aid package to the states. Governor Cuomo indicated that New York may need to raise revenues to continue funding vital services. Nurses are joining with elected officials and community advocates to call for bold solutions, including taxing the ultra-wealthy in order to save New York’s healthcare system and economy.
WHO: Bellevue and NYC H+H/Mayorals nurses, union and community allies, and elected officials, including City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, NYC Council Member Mark Levine, NYC Council Member Ben Kallos, NYC Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Doctors Council SEIU, CWA District 1, Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), Center for Popular Democracy, Commission on the Public’s Health System (CPHS), and Metro NY Health Care for All.
WHAT: Bellevue Rally and Speak Out to Stop the Cuts, Tax the Rich, Save NY Healthcare
WHEN: Tuesday, September 15 from 12:00 PM-1:30 PM
**Press conference from 12:30 PM – 1:00 PM**
WHERE: In the park across the street from NYC H+H/Bellevue, 462 First Ave (1st Ave, btwn. 27th Street and Mount Carmel Place)
VISUALS: Masking and social distancing will be strictly observed.
“Bellevue nurses helped save New York from Ebola and COVID-19, but we won’t be able to save it from the massive budget and Medicaid cuts on the horizon,” said Todd Schultz, RN, local NYSNA President at H+H/Bellevue. “COVID-19 was a reminder that the people of NYC and our entire healthcare system, including private sector hospitals, depend on public sector hospitals to function. Our work is essential and should be fully-funded. If the federal government is not willing to do the right thing and deliver funding to defeat COVID-19 and the economic crisis, New York State and City must step up!”
State Senator Brad Hoylman said: “Nurses have put their lives on the line to save the lives of countless New Yorkers during the pandemic. We owe them more than just our thanks. If the federal government won't provide the funding we need, we must require the wealthiest New Yorkers to do their civic duty and help their state survive this crisis without devastating cuts to services. We must pass my bill with Assembly Member Glick (S.44-B/A.4540-A) to tax pied-a-terres and other legislation carried by my colleagues to require the rich to pay their fair share. Justice and equity demand nothing less.”
“Public hospitals have been on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. “They now face devastating cuts that will mean layoffs and reduced access to care if New York doesn’t act to raise revenue. We know we can’t rely on Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell to fill our budget gaps. Many of my colleagues and I are advocating for a stock transfer tax, pied-a-terre tax, or other proposals to raise revenue from the wealthiest New Yorkers. It’s critically important that the legislature return this session to take up these measures in order to avoid even more dangerous cuts to health care, education, social services, and other areas.”
"Doctors Council and our frontline doctor members know now more than ever our NYC H+H public hospital health system and all safety net facilities are essential and vital to continuing to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and to be prepared for a potential second wave. The public health system, and its patients and health care workers, not only cannot face cuts in Medicaid or in other areas but must be adequately funded so that patients have needed equipment such as ventilators and workers have enough PPE, including N95 masks. All levels of government - federal, state and local - need to step up and not have any cuts as well as providing proper funding to ensure quality and safe patient care.”
— Frank Proscia, M.D., President, Doctors Council
“As we know, this year the State Legislature passed an austerity budget which cut funds from healthcare, hospitals, services, and workers funds,” said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. “Anytime, but especially amid this pandemic, these budget cuts are devastating to our nurses, healthcare workers, and hospitals. Nurses worked without access to proper PPE and continue to risk their lives to provide life saving care to New Yorkers. We know we need federal dollars but we also know we cannot keep waiting. Moving forward, we must generate revenue for our essential services and our workers by taxing the rich. My bill, the stock buyback bill, proposes an extremely modest 0.5% tax on stock buybacks which would bring in billions in revenue to support healthcare, schools, infrastructure, and more. By passing this bill and other bills that ensures everyone pays their fair share, we can focus on supporting our workers whose jobs and lives are at risk due to these budget cuts.”
“Our nurses and hospital staff perform critical, heroic work caring for the sick, the elderly, and the young. We must stand up for these essential workers and fully fund their lifesaving work. It’s time for the very wealthiest among us to pay their fair share in order to raise revenue and ensure adequate investment in health care. Our nurses, their patients, and all New Yorkers deserve nothing less."
— New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer
“As our economy had to be shut down to get people to isolate, it became clear that some people would still need to work for us to survive. Those essential workers were the health care workers especially our nurses and doctors, the farm workers, food service workers, grocery workers, the bus drivers, and the janitors. Those people do the jobs that our survival depends on. But what also became so awfully clearer was the toxic narratives that justify, and lend support to, the brutal systems of inequality, racism, and environmental devastation that are causing chaos on our lives,” stated Anthony Feliciano, Director of the Commission on the Public’s Health System. “Better off societies are those that have strong systems of public health. The labor of essential workers is what creates wealth in society. If people believed in that, then it would be easier to build support for policies such as taxing the ultra-rich in New York, and so much more. From this terrible crisis we are in with COVID-19 is that people are beginning again and more widely to question some fundamental beliefs about how society works.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare racial and geographic inequities long marbled throughout our city’s health care system that need to be urgently addressed in order for us to get through it successfully,” said Mark Hannay, Director of Metro New York Health Care for All. “Financial resources from all levels of government will be required to rebalance our system, so Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature must act right away to slightly raise taxes on the ultra-wealthy so that they once again ‘pay their fair share’ after receiving decades of unwise tax cuts.”
State Senator Robert Jackson said, “I stand in full support of the funding these nurses know they need to do the job we count on them to do. Since before COVID-19, I have been saying that we need to raise revenues in New York. Now, we’ve reached the point where any further delay is criminal. It’s criminal against the essential workers like nurses and teachers whose work depends on state funding, and it’s criminal against the people who rely on their service. We have the answers right in front of us — raising revenues by making the wealthiest New Yorkers pay their fair share — and it’s our job as State legislators to come together as one to make it happen. I look forward to doing just that and reiterate my call for the Senate to reconvene so we can vote on these revenue raisers immediately. Let’s get it done.”
“Communities across NY and across the country need more funding for healthcare delivery than ever before. We are nearing 200,000 deaths. This is not the time to gut Medicaid funding. Governor Cuomo has an opportunity to distance himself from Trump and actually invest in the healthcare that we need. He can simply increase taxes for those who can afford it. The Center for Popular Democracy stands with the New York State Nurses Association and their patients to demand increased support for Medicaid to combat COVID.”
— Jennifer Flynn Walker, Center for Popular Democracy
The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 42,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. For more information, please visit nysna.org.