To cries of “Sign the bill!”, the Save Our Safety Net Campaign held an educational forum in the lobby of Harlem Hospital on November 15 to urge Governor Cuomo to ink his name to the all-important Enhanced Safety Net Hospital bill (A.9476-A/S.6948-A) passed unanimously in the legislature in June.
Unions, public health advocates, civil rights and immigrant rights groups and others came forward to make statements in support of a bill that would ensure New York State’s safety net hospitals receive funding that fairly and equitably reflects the care they provide to Medicaid and uninsured patients.
NYSNA Secretary Anne Bové, RN, President of our union’s H+H/Mayorals Executive Council, spoke of “people being bypassed” when calling for a way to “establish and enforce the care needed.... The funds allocated by the bill are absolutely essential to the viability of our safety net system. The bill is critical to creating greater equality in healthcare. It is a must,” she said.
Public Advocate Letitia James also had words to share, calling on the governor to “do the right thing.” James said “this is a common ground. This bill goes a long way to address the needs of the most vulnerable.”
Dr. Matthew Chatoor, a surgical resident at Harlem Hospital and a member of the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU, pointed out that 70 percent of inpatient admissions at Harlem were of the Medicaid and uninsured population. Already, he said, there were “severe consequences” from lack of sufficient funds, including long delays in the ER and patients returning with the same illnesses because of their inability to afford medicines.
“When healthcare resources and funds are unfairly distributed and policies do not reflect or follow the needs of patients, we should not be surprised that our safety-net is adversely impacted,” said Anthony Feliciano, Director of the Commission on the Public’s Health System. “It is in the best interest of the people for the governor to sign the Enhanced Safety Net bill.”
More than 15,000 signatures have been collected from hospital employees, community members and health advocates in support of this bill. More than 70 community groups across the state have written to the Governor.