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Cuomo and  de Blasio appear with state lawmakers in late January to demand that HHS approve the state's Medicaid waiver.
Cuomo and de Blasio appear with state lawmakers in late January to demand that HHS approve the state's Medicaid waiver.

Funding aims to breathe life into ailing Brooklyn hospitals

By Melanie Evans
Posted: February 14, 2014 - 3:00 pm ET

Troubled Brooklyn hospitals are closer to state intervention thanks to a Medicaid waiver deal that will allow New York state to keep $8 billion created by Medicaid reform efforts. While details on how that money will be used are not yet available, public officials pointed to the Brooklyn institutions' distress in applauding the deal.

“With this funding, we can finally turn the page on a decade of reckless hospital closures, and confront the immediate crises facing seven hospitals in Brooklyn alone,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

Hospitals will likely be eligible for funds to shift services outside of their four walls into homes and less costly settings and hospital officials are already seeking to position themselves to move as quickly as possible, once the waiver details are finalized, said Kenneth Raske, president and CEO of the Greater New York Hospital Association. “We're wasting no time,” he said. “The need is right upon us.”

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Funding will aid hospitals across the state, not just in Brooklyn, that are grappling with changes to healthcare delivery that shift more care into community and ambulatory settings and away from hospital beds, Raske said. “Brooklyn is a poster child, but it goes well beyond Brooklyn.”

The agreement, which New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo described late Thursday as “in principal,” will allow the state to keep $8 billion created by Medicaid reform efforts. The funds will be used for consolidation of New York's health system, primary-care expansion and increased care coordination, under a draft of the proposal submitted to the CMS at the end of January. The state's Medicaid plans also call for capital to stabilize safety net hospitals, including funds for operational restructuring and technical assistance to governing boards.

New York officials must review the terms and conditions of the agreement, which was less than the $10 billion state officials originally sought, in part to aid distressed hospitals in Brooklyn, such as Interfaith Medical Center. Interfaith nearly closed its doors late last year before a last-minute infusion of state cash.

It's unclear what the agreement will mean for Interfaith, said Melissa Krantz, a spokeswoman for the 277-bed Brooklyn hospital. The hospitals' governing board president had not yet spoken with state officials as of Friday morning, Krantz said. “We are hopeful,” she said.

The governor, who included $1.2 billion for healthcare capital projects in a budget proposal released last month, called the agreement “the biggest step forward towards a positive conclusion for our communities, particularly in Brooklyn, that have suffered from diminishing health care services.”

Follow Melanie Evans on Twitter: @MHmevans

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