New York City Council Members, Hospital Leaders, Healthcare Advocates & Workers Join Statewide Coalition Demanding Governor Kathy Hochul End Medicaid Funding Crisis

February 28, 2024

New York City Elected Officials join other localities statewide – Auburn and Utica – in support
of raising the Medicaid reimbursement rate

New York, New York – Today, a coalition of City Council members, hospital representatives, faith leaders, healthcare workers and advocates held a press conference on the steps of City Hall to demand that Governor Hochul address New York’s dire Medicaid funding crisis by raising the Medicaid reimbursement rate.

Today’s press conference builds on the work of the New York Alliance for Healthcare Justice (NYAHJ), a growing coalition of New Yorkers – including municipal governments statewide – led by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and Greater New York Hospital Association, to pressure state leaders to close the Medicaid funding gap. Following today’s press conference, Council Member Mercedes Narcisse will introduce a resolution calling on the New York State Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, legislation to fully fund the Medicaid program. In doing so, New York City will join a coalition of local governments statewide, including Auburn and Utica, who recognize the dire Medicaid crisis and need for immediate action.

More than 4.2 million New York City residents rely on Medicaid for their healthcare. Even though Medicaid provides vital coverage to these New Yorkers, the state pays hospitals 30% less than the actual cost of care and 24% less to nursing homes. As a result of this underfunding, hospitals in New York continue to struggle financially more than in the rest of the U.S and cannot invest in programs and services for the patients they serve. In New York City, Medicaid underfunding has exacerbated issues for safety-net hospitals in particular, as illustrated by the pending closure of Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Beth Israel.

“As a member of the City Council and a registered nurse, I am deeply invested in the well-being of all New Yorkers, especially when it comes to healthcare. I firmly believe access to quality healthcare is a right and to provide such care we must end the Medicaid funding crisis now. The diagnosis is simple, until we address this issue we will continue to suffer, with the consequences being felt most in communities of color and among low-income New Yorkers. The remedy is that New York State leaders must prioritize Medicaid reimbursements to cover the actual cost of care,” said New York City Council Member Mercedes Narcisse, Chair of the Committee on Hospitals.

“Every individual deserves equal access to quality healthcare, regardless of their ability to pay or their zip code. Yet, Medicaid, which millions of New Yorkers rely on, is currently being severely underfunded. Increasing Medicaid reimbursements will help us build a more equitable healthcare system that leaves no one behind and paves the way for a healthier New York,” said New York City Council Member Lynn Schulman, Chair of the Committee on Health.

“It is essential that all New Yorkers have access to high quality healthcare that they deserve-no matter their income or circumstance. Hospitals are struggling to keep up with rising healthcare costs, and they are not being reimbursed sufficiently for their treatment of patients with Medicaid insurance. I commend the Healthcare Justice campaign for their efforts to close the Medicaid reimbursement gap and fight this crisis. I want to emphasize that this is not only a healthcare issue, it is also an equity issue,” said New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera.

“I am proud to stand with 1199SEIU, GNYHA, and the Healthcare Education Project in their critical fight to eliminate the Medicaid funding gap. Implementing their proposal to fix the underlying issues with Medicaid structures is critical to improving health outcomes across the City,” said New York City Council Member Shahana Hanif.

“More often than not, Medicaid dollars are what stand between human misery and a dignified life for patients. We must ensure Medicaid reimbursements make it to the institutions that need them most. Raising rates is a baseline move we can make as a state to protect not only our most vulnerable residents and communities, but also the institutions that serve them,” said New York City Council Member Alexa Avilés.

New York State’s chronic underfunding of Medicaid negatively affects health outcomes for Black and Latino communities across New York City, as well as low-income seniors, expectant mothers, young children from low-income families, and people with disabilities. For example, while Medicaid covers 50% of births in New York, women covered by Medicaid accounted for 61% of pregnancy-associated deaths in 2018, with Black women experiencing significantly higher mortality rates than other races. Infant mortality rates for Blacks and Latinos are also higher than for whites.

Unequal access to healthcare also continues to drive disparities in lifespan citywide. For example, a person living in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan is expected to live 14 years longer than someone living in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn.

These disparities have only continued to worsen: according to the City’s own Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the largest declines in life expectancy citywide have been among Black and Latino New Yorkers in recent years.

Other localities statewide in Syracuse, Buffalo and Rochester are seeing the outcomes of healthcare inequities firsthand, as a broad coalition of state legislative leaders, hospital representatives, and healthcare advocates and workers have held press conferences in recent months to urge Governor Kathy Hochul to fully fund Medicaid. In January, faith leaders from across the state rallied at the Capitol as over 200 faith leaders signed on to a letter calling on the Governor to end the Medicaid funding crisis. A majority of Democratic legislators in New York have indicated that they support fully funding Medicaid. Last week in an op-ed in the Buffalo News, Reverend Mark Blue, president of the NAACP’s Buffalo Chapter, pressed Governor Hochul to end the Medicaid funding crisis.

By raising Medicaid rates to cover the cost of hospital services over the next four years, New York can eliminate the Medicaid funding gap and reduce the resulting care gaps and health disparities for the 40% of New Yorkers covered by the Medicaid Health Insurance program. This will not only stabilize hospitals across the state but also allow them to invest and grow critical services needed to treat the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

About the New York Alliance for Healthcare Justice

The New York Alliance for Healthcare Justice (NYAHJ) is dedicated to ensuring that Medicaid reimbursements cover the full cost of care, so that all New Yorkers have access to quality health care. NYAHJ is an initiative through the Healthcare Education Project (HEP), a community-based advocacy organization working to protect and expand access to quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans through education, advocacy, and coalition building. HEP is a joint effort of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the Greater New York Hospital Association, founded in 1999.

For additional information, click HERE.

#          #         #

Media Contact: