By the end of the year, the financially troubled Westchester Medical Center is expected to face a $60 million deficit and members of the County Board of Legislators Tuesday expressed their concern for the health of the patients, employees and the hospital.
Robert Boland, a member of the Board of the Westchester County Health Care Corporation, the public benefit corporation that operates the hospital, told the legislature’s Community Services Committee the culprit is the Medicare reimbursement rate set by the federal government, which is apparently lower than non-public benefit corporation hospitals. He said Erie and Nassau County medical centers face similar financial situations.
The hospital’s unions charge the administration with imposing massive layoffs to cut spending while they raise their own salaries.
Legislator MaryJane Shimsky said the problem is not with the unions or administration.
“It’s a structural problem created by an unsustainable reimbursement rate and it saddens me that what is happening is one segment at the hospital community is going after another segment of the hospital community when everybody should be uniting and going back to Albany and saying we have to restructure this system to make it work,” Shimsky said.
Committee Chairwoman Alfreda Williams had invited Hospital President Michael Israel to the session, which was attended by hospital employees, but he declined saying he was reluctant to discuss finances while union negotiations were ongoing. Williams was critical of his decision saying as experienced lawmakers, they would have known how far they could have taken discussions in public.
Lawmakers also suggested the three hospitals around the state band together to let Albany know of their mutual financial concerns.
Williams also asked for an appraisal of the land on which the hospital sits. It is owned by the county, but the hospital pays no rent.