Bill de Blasio proposes Brooklyn Health Authority amid hospital closure fears

Credit: Office of the New York City Public Advocate
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio unveils a report showing the impact of Brooklyn hospital closures. Credit: Office of the New York City Public Advocate

Amid fears of Brooklyn hospital closures, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is calling for a “super authority” to manage facilities in the borough and implement sustainable change for its health care system.

“Community hospitals in Brooklyn are standing on the brink,” de Blasio said in a statement. “If we don’t act, they’ll end up as condos and some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city will lose their emergency rooms, clinics and doctors.”

As part of a four-point plan to save Brooklyn hospitals that will be announced Monday, de Blasio proposes the creation of a Brooklyn Health Authority, a joint body through the city and state health departments.

The proposed authority would have “extraordinary power” and incorporate hospitals, private physicians, some federal health centers, nursing homes and mental health professionals into an “integrated care system” in Brooklyn.

The plan comes as two hospitals—Long Island College Hospital and Interfaith Medical Center—are on the brink of closure because of falling revenues.

“These battles—L.I.C.H, Interfaith and all those coming in the months ahead—are all parts of a bigger whole. We need a plan that keeps the doors of Brooklyn’s hospitals open for the long haul,” said de Blasio, who was arrested during a rally protesting the closure of Long Island College Hospital.

De Blasio sees the plan as an model for addressing larger issues in the urban health care system. While hospitals in Manhattan attract patients covered through commercial insurance, Brooklyn hospitals are struggling to provide care for a less-affluent population. In the borough, 40 percent of patients are covered by Medicaid and another 15 percent are uninsured altogether.

The authority would serve to coordinate money from New York State Medicaid wavers and would include appointees from both the mayor and governor. The body would help existing hospitals and health care providers merge and modernize care.

The body would also have sweeping authority over new facilities and changes to existing facilities, as well as the power to remove or change boards and leadership.

Other parts of de Blasio’s plan include preventing hospital bankruptcies and coordinating construction of new healthcare facilities under one fund. Higher standards of care would also be implemented, starting with city-run hospitals such as Kings County, Woodhull and Coney Island.

“With swift, bold, coordinated City and State leadership, we can make Brooklyn a model for urban health care transformation,” de Blasio’s plan says.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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