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Needed: A Senator Who Will Look Out for New York and New Yorkers

NEW YORK, Feb. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Betsy McCaughey, prominent patient advocate and former Lt. Governor of NY says, "Shame on Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for victimizing New York hospitals and New York's healthcare workers.  Her call for a public option could force New York hospitals into bankruptcy."

In a February 16th announcement and letter to Senator Harry Reid, Kirsten Gillibrand called on the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to support a public option.  Such a scheme will devastate New York's hospitals, forcing cuts in hospital budgets, spreading nurses even thinner, and causing layoffs.

Public Option A Knockout Punch for New York Hospitals

On average hospitals collect 93 cents for each dollar they spend treating a Medicare patient, and only 86 cents for a Medicaid patient.  Hospitals are able to keep their doors open because they manage to wring out $1.32 from private insurers for each dollar of care, according to government data. (MedPAC data March, 2009)

McCaughey says, "Creating a public option, as Gillibrand unwisely recommends, could force New York hospitals into severe losses."  Millions of Americans would leave private plans for this public option, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  This public option will shortchange hospitals, paying them at the same below-cost rates as Medicare pays.

At the least, it would force New Yorkers' premiums to go up.  In fact, people with private insurance already pay, on average, about $1,780 a year more for health insurance premiums than they would if Medicare and Medicaid didn't shortchange hospitals.  A public option would push even more costs on people with private insurance.    

Reid and Pelosi Bills Slam New York Hospitals

"Even without adding a public option, the 'health reform' being pushed by President Obama and Senator Gillibrand treats New York unfairly, and will cost many New York healthcare workers their jobs," states McCaughey.

The legislation cuts hundreds of billions of dollars from payments to hospitals.  McCaughey explains "New York is the hospital capital of the nation. More New Yorkers have jobs in health care than any other industry.  The workforce at New York Presbyterian Medical Center is bigger than Macy's or Time Warner.  For a New York Senator to support these cuts would be like Michigan Senator supporting cutbacks in payments for automobiles."

The Reid and Pelosi bills shift resources from training and reimbursing specialists to training and reimbursing primary care physicians. But New York is the academic medical center of the nation, known for educating and employing specialists.  The reallocation in these bills will starve the specialty departments at New York's academic hospitals.  McCaughey asks "Why aren't Gillibrand and Schumer opposing this reallocation?"

The Obama administration and the Reid and Pelosi bills also aim to reduce Medicare reimbursement rates in high cost areas of the country such as New York to match payments in low cost areas like Minneapolis.  There are compelling explanations for the higher costs incurred in New York.  McCaughey says, "The one-size fits all scheme for reimbursing hospitals will cheat New Yorkers.   Why aren't Schumer and Gillibrand fighting this blow to New York hospitals?  Senator Gillibrand should get the facts about New York's healthcare industry before recklessly backing legislation that will cost New York hospital workers their jobs, force cuts in hospital budgets, and ultimately make patients suffer."

SOURCE Betsy McCaughey

SOURCE Betsy McCaughey
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