New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corp., which operates the biggest municipal health system in the U.S., said its budget deficit will more than triple to $1.4 billion in four years.
The system, which served 1.4 million patients last year, including 500,000 without health insurance, is suffering from Medicaid reimbursement cuts and “astronomical increases” in pension and employee health-insurance costs, Alan Aviles, president of the agency, said today in written testimony for the city council health committee.
“The safety-net role of our public hospital system has made HHC especially vulnerable to deep cuts to Medicaid, the cost of serving a rising tide of uninsured patients and the erosion of federal funding,” Aviles said.
The hospital corporation’s woes add to the fiscal strains facing Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose $74 billion preliminary budget doesn’t account for settling expired contracts with more than 150 public employee unions. Providing retroactive pay may cost more than $6 billion, according to the Independent Budget Office, a city-funded fiscal monitor.
An $8 billion federal Medicaid waiver announced two weeks ago may help HHC weather its fiscal storm, de Blasio said when he presented his first budget on Feb. 12. The waiver will allow New York to restructure its health-care system, de Blasio said. About 80 percent of HHC’s patients are on Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor, or are uninsured, according to HHC.