Joint statement: Guarantee the Survival of the Healthcare Safety Net

Medicaid Matters joined NYC Health + Hospitals, labor unions, the Commission on the Public’s Health System, the Community Service Society of NY, and many other groups and organizations to advance the following priorities to protect safety-net hospitals:

  • Target Indigent Care Pool and Disproportionate Share Hospital (ICP/DSH) funding to Essential Safety Net Hospitals: This funding is supposed to support hospitals providing a disproportionate share of health care services to low-income Medicaid and uninsured patients, but in New York this funding is widely distributed to hospitals that do not need it or do not deserve it. The distorted distribution of funds harms the public and private safety net hospitals that serve low-income, immigrant, communities of color, and rural communities. ICP/DSH funding should be exclusively directed to hospitals that meet the definition of Enhanced Safety Net Hospitals under PHL Section 2807-c(34).
  • No Medicaid cuts to Enhanced Safety Net Hospitals: Enacted and proposed reductions in Medicaid spending disproportionately affect low-income, medically vulnerable and communities of color. We cannot reduce Medicaid funding to Enhanced Safety Net Hospitals during a pandemic that has ravaged our most vulnerable people.
  • Medicaid reimbursement rates should be increased to support safety net hospitals – Safety net providers rely heavily on Medicaid funding, which pays much less for services than private insurers, and which unfairly underpays for services that are used by vulnerable communities and not provided by private hospital systems.

The full statement may be downloaded here.

Hospital charity care funding

For far too long, hospital indigent care pool funding – also referred to as hospital charity care funding – has been allocated in a way that does not tie the money to actual services to low-income people.  As part of the 2018-19 state budget agreement, the NYS Department of Health hosted a workgroup to once again examine this issue and come up with a new way of allocating these public funds.  DOH released the final report of the workgroup in February 2019.  Community perspective on the workgroup and recommendations for action were then provided by the Commission on the Public’s Health System in a call to action.

NYC Health + Hospitals and the NYS Nurses Association presented proposals for how to correct this, working closely with consumer advocates as they developed their proposals.  The proposal presented by H+H has been introduced by the Assembly and Senate Health Committee chairs (A.6677-A, Gottfried / S.5546, Rivera).

The bottom line is we need accountability and transparency in the way these public funds – which were intended to compensate hospitals for care to people on Medicaid and people who are uninsured – are allocated and spent.  This funding must be allocated by the State to the facilities that meet the statutory definition of safety net hospitals, as well as other needy hospitals in communities across the state.