Hospital administrators and union members joined hands last week to urge passage of a national healthcare reform bill that ensures universal coverage and protects New York City hospitals from hefty payment cuts.
Hundreds of healthcare workers marched through midtown Manhattan last week carrying a banner emblazoned with the coalition's dual message: "Health Care Reform: Cover Every American*.*.*.*But Don't Hurt New York."
Leaders of the management-labor coalition also met with House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) in Washington last week to plead their case.
According to studies by the Greater New York Hospital Association, its 91 hospital members could sustain millions of dollars in federal Medicare and Medicaid cuts (See related story on healthcare studies, p. 28).
A new study on graduate medical education reforms shows the potential impact of proposals to limit the total number of residency positions in the United States. The GNYHA estimates that it will cost New York City hospitals $47 million to $97 million to replace first-year residents-lost as a result of limits on training slots-with mid-level practitioners and other medical professionals who can provide patient-care services.
None of the reform proposals being considered by Congress provides a permanent funding source to cover the costs of substituting residents with other professionals who can deliver healthcare services, the GNYHA said.
New York City hospitals train about 85% of residents in the state and 13% of residents in the country.
Dennis Rivera, president of the 125,000-member National Health and Human Service Employees Union Local 1199, said the coalition has two goals: universal healthcare coverage for all and financial safeguards for New York hospitals.
Mr. Rivera said it's important for New York's congressional delegation to "make sure New York gets its fair share."
In order to help "the poor, the sick, the frail and the old," labor and management must work together to help New York's congressional delegation fight for a reform package that doesn't do more harm than good, said Kenneth E. Raske, the GNYHA's president.
"We don't want to see our hospitals devastated with cuts," Mr. Raske said.
The coalition is seeking guaranteed universal coverage, few or no Medicare and Medicaid cuts, assurances that no physician training programs will be cut without adequate resources to replace residents, provisions for healthcare worker re-training, and preservation of New York's hospital rate-setting system.