North Country healthcare leaders say fiscal cliff would hurt ho

Hospital administrators from the eastern half of the North Country gathered today in Plattsburgh to raise the alarm about possible cuts stemming from the fiscal cliff deficit reduction negotiations in Washington.

“What they’re saying is that if we go over the fiscal cliff, there are cuts that impact health care,” says Champlain Valley correspondent Sarah Harris. “Those cuts will impact North Country hospitals in really big ways.”

According to Harris — who will report on the press conference tomorrow morning — regional hospitals could lose 4-5% of their total budgets if Federal funding is curtailed.

This news comes in the wake of a recent spate of lay-offs and downsizings at hospitals from Glens Falls to Saranac Lake.  Tune in tomorrow during Morning Edition and the 8 O’clock Hour for more details.

The full press release is below:

DECEMBER 20, 2012 – North Country health-care providers are uniting to urge elected officials to protect vital services and much-needed jobs being jeopardized by fiscal cliff and deficit reduction negotiations in Washington, D.C.
Today, the leaders of three North Country health systems – Adirondack Health, CVPH Medical Center and Elizabethtown Community Hospital – are asking the public to join them in urging elected officials to resolve our fiscal challenges without sacrificing health-care services and jobs in our region.  Hospitals and nursing homes have already endured drastic cuts. Further reductions will undermine our ability to provide the community with access to care at the right time, in the right setting.
Hospitals and nursing homes in the North Country have already accepted $320 million in funding cuts over the next ten years as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other adopted Medicare and Medicaid cuts.  The realities of health care reform have also resulted in the need for several hospitals in the region to implement long-term restructuring plans, including reductions to their workforce, in order to continue providing a high level of patient centered care to their communities.
Health care providers in our region would be hit with an additional $432 million in cuts over 10 years if we go over the fiscal cliff.  In 2013 alone, other Medicare payment policies that have expired or are set to expire represent an additional $11 million in losses for hospitals in our region.
Arbitrary funding cuts to health care threaten the ability of our North Country hospitals to continue providing vital services to our communities on a daily basis or in a time of crisis.
“Each of our organizations has had to deal with these fiscal realities without compromising our commitment to quality care and community need,” said Chandler Ralph, President & CEO of Adirondack Health.  “Unfortunately, we are feeling increasing pressure to evaluate those services that fill a community need but in the long run are unsustainable.”
Hospital administrators are incredibly worried about the future, according to Rod Boula, administrator and CEO at Elizabethtown Community Hospital. “Small, community hospitals simply cannot shoulder additional cuts,” he said. “Elizabethtown Community Hospital is facing cuts of more than four hundred thousand dollars. That’s two percent of its gross revenues per year; and four million dollars over ten years.  This will have a tremendous negative impact on the availability of primary care services to our rural communities.”
“As a nation we cannot afford to sustain the rate of growth in what is being spent on health care.    We as providers need to be willing to challenge ourselves to determine how we can deliver greater value and better outcomes while expending fewer resources to produce the desired results,” said Stephens Mundy, President and Chief Executive Officer of CVPH Medical Center. 
“However, if the extreme cuts to reimbursement being discussed in Washington do occur, the process is going to be incredibly painful and all the more challenging.  Although we are not-for-profits we are businesses as well with bills to pay and payrolls to meet.  When we receive significantly less money than it costs to provide services, something has to give,” he added.
Hospital leaders understand the fiscal challenges our nation faces.  However, arbitrary cuts to Medicare and Medicaid funding will force health-care providers to evaluate their ability to deliver important services.  Most vulnerable are those services where reimbursement levels do not reflect the true cost of providing care, such as dialysis, chemotherapy or obstetrics.
Even as hospitals in this region have grappled with fiscal challenges and the realties of health-care reform, they are working to make care more affordable through innovative programs that focus on preventive care, improving quality and enhanced patient safety.
Workable solutions include:
* Coordinated care approaches for patients with chronic illness
* Medical malpractice reform
* Restructuring Medicare and Medicare
* Encouraging healthy lifestyles
* Thoughtful discussions on end-of-life care
Adirondack Health, CVPH Medical Center and Elizabethtown Community Hospital provide critical safety net services to a six-county region of northern New York totaling 7,875 square miles that are home to 306,466 residents.  This number does not include the thousands of tourists who visit the region annually.  These three health systems are major employers and serve as economic anchors in their communities.
Adirondack Health is the new name for the family of facilities and individuals who have provided sophisticated care to the Tri-Lakes region for the past 100 years.  They include: Adirondack Medical Center, Adirondack Medical Center/Lake Placid, Mountain Health Center (Keene), Lake Placid Health Center, Tupper Lake Health Center, Mercy Living Center (Tupper Lake), Uihlein Living Center (Lake Placid) and Adirondack Dental Service (Lake Placid).  The highly trained and compassionate individuals who work at these facilities provide a full range of medical, surgical and long-term care services.
Adirondack Health is not only the leading provider of health care for the residents and visitors of the Tri-Lakes region, it is also the largest private employer in the Adirondack Park.  In addition to the physical and social health of the community, Adirondack Health plays a significant role in the economic health of the community.  With over 900 full-time employees, Adirondack Health has a $120 million annual impact on the local economy.  This impact comes from the generation of payroll, income and property tax revenue, purchase of goods and services and associated commerce generated by our employees living throughout the area. As a result of these factors, and more, Adirondack Health is a key community institution, and an advocate for improving the health and economic well being of the patients, residents, businesses and visitors it serves. 
We are leading care for a healthy community.
CVPH Medical Center is the largest medical facility and employer in New York’s North Country.  The CVPH family includes approximately 2,300 employees, 200 members of its medical staff and 225 volunteers.  CVPH provides a full gamut of medical services including open-heart surgery and angioplasty, 24-hour physician coverage in its emergency department, and a complete range of diagnostic services.  In January, CVPH is slated to affiliate with Fletcher Allen Partners, an integrated health care system with members based in Vermont and Northern New York. 
Elizabethtown Community Hospital is a 25-bed critical access hospital (CAH) providing healthcare to the residents of, and visitors to, communities throughout Essex County. The hospital offers advanced technology, access to specialists, a variety of health-care services, and highly skilled medical staff. Hospital services include: inpatient care, a 24-hour emergency department, specialty clinics, a complete physical and occupational therapy department, on-site laboratory, an all-digital radiology department, chemotherapy treatment, and a cardiac rehabilitation program.
Elizabethtown Community Hospital is the only critical access hospital in Essex County accredited by the Joint Commission. It first received its critical access hospital status in 1997. This designation is given to small, rural hospitals that are located over 35 miles from another hospital. Critical access hospitals must have agreements with other facilities that are willing to accept patients needing additional care. Those hospitals must trust the abilities and capabilities of the CAH, in terms of managing initial assessment and care of the patient. There are 1,325 CAHs across the United States; 13 of those are in New York State.

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3 Comments on “North Country healthcare leaders say fiscal cliff would hurt ho”

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  1. Walker says:

    Which ho?

    [Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I think that headline needs work!]

  2. tootightmike says:

    For weeks now the discussion has been on “entitlements” and “revenue sources”, and there has been a constant tug-of-war between the parties as though these were the only two topics. Now today, in one of the National news stories above, we see that despite a total failure to work out any sort of deal that would help in any way…the House votes to protect us from the dreaded “defense cuts”. The elephant in the room has been for many years now, the fact that Americans are paying for an army that is twice as big as anything else on the planet. We maintain a nuclear arsenal that no one will ever decide to use. We station our troops all over the fricken globe…even in places like Japan, and Cuba for god’s sake!
    In the Mid-East, our presence and our support of others has created more terrorists than we’ll ever kill, and the mere fact of our military might turns us into a belligerent bully, always wishing for a fight.
    This level of military spending is un-productive. It does not create a product…not even peace. The jobs that are created in the defense industry are UN-productive. They do not move us forward. Nothing is accomplished. There is no progress as long as we stand our ground and fortify ourselves…especially when our kids need better schools, our cities need better infrastructure, and our world needs a different energy source. Oh, and hospitals….

  3. Peter Hahn says:

    Those wacky rebublicans. Looks like we are going to find out how bad it will be.

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