U.S. Senator Charles Schumer was in Gloversville today to advocate for funding for local hospitals. As WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports, time is running out to renew the federal support.
Speaking outside Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville, Senator Schumer said a $4 billion federal program that serves local hospitals is just a few weeks away from expiring. The hospital where the Democratic Senate Minority Leader was speaking could lose millions over the next decade if a deal isn’t reached in Congress to keep the program.
“$4.7 million at the worst possible time for there to be a cut. What is being cut? Something called DSH. The DSH program. Disproportionate share.”
The Medicaid DSH program is intended to provide funding to hospitals that provide care to a high number of low-income and uninsured patients. A deal to renew the program must be made before December 11th – an agreement on an omnibus spending bill must also be approved on that day to avert a government shutdown.
The pandemic has made every avenue for federal funding critical. Nathan Littauer CEO Sean Fadale…
“The thing that COVID-19 has done is it’s shone a bright light on the importance of local hospitals – of access to life-sustaining opportunities and care that’s provided in our emergency department and special care units, and the continued access of primary care in our health centers,” said Fadale.
Not to mention the costs of securing PPE and other medical supplies, Senator Schumer said the funding could have impacts for Nathan Littauer long beyond the pandemic.
“It is the primary care hospital for 31,000 residents in Fulton County and because they’re already experiencing a shortage of doctors, the DSH cut will prevent them from recruiting new doctors. We have a lot of doctors, 55, 60, 65 and with COVID they’re retiring at a more rapid rate. If they don’t have the money and they can’t bring in new doctors, wow, the quality of this institution and all the other institutions would decline significantly,” said Schumer.
Across the Capital Region, hospitals could lose a total $58 million in funding if the DSH program is not renewed, according to Schumer.
On Wednesday, Nathan Littauer reached an agreement with healthcare labor union 1199 SEIU after a contract expired 22 months ago.
Fadale, who became CEO in October, commented on the new contract that expires at the end of June 2023.
“A healthcare organization is only as strong as the people that work for it. So we feel it’s very important that people have fair wages, we feel it’s very important they have good benefits, and we feel it’s very important that we recruit and retain the best medical staff possible and the best support staff possible to make sure that we can care for our patients on a day-to-day basis,” said Fadale.