Press Releases

Rice Leads New York Democrats in Request for Infrastructure Funding for Hospitals and Health Systems

Letter to House and Senate leadership supported by Healthcare Association of New York State and the Greater New York Hospital Association

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Washington, July 14, 2021 | Stuart Malec ((201) 225-5516) | comments

GARDEN CITY, NY – U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice (NY-04) led a letter with other Democrats in New York’s congressional delegation urging House and Senate leadership to include robust funding for hospital and health system infrastructure in the comprehensive infrastructure package currently being negotiated in both chambers of Congress.

Collectively, New York’s hospital infrastructure is the oldest in the United States, and physical improvements are vital to maintaining New York’s unmatched standard of care. New investments are also needed in workforce development, emergency and pandemic preparedness, and digital infrastructure according to healthcare professionals and industry experts. However, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York’s nonprofit and public hospitals and health systems faced a bleak financial situation due to chronically low reimbursement rates from health insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid. The public health emergency has exacerbated the crisis and placed many critical healthcare infrastructure projects on hold.

“If there is one lesson we learned from this pandemic, it’s the critical importance of modernized and well-funded hospitals and health systems,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “And this is true nowhere more than it is in New York State. Our hospitals and health systems led us through the pandemic despite its crippling financial impacts. The importance of investing in public health is clear. We must listen to our healthcare professionals and make sure we are better prepared for the next public health emergency. That’s why I’m leading this effort with my fellow New Yorkers to fight for the resources our hospitals need in the upcoming infrastructure bill.”

Rice’s push for infrastructure funding for hospitals and health systems is supported by the Healthcare Association of New York State and the Greater New York Hospital Association.

“HANYS applauds Rep. Rice for her leadership in convening her colleagues in Congress to call for critical infrastructure funding for New York’s hospitals,” said HANYS President Bea Grause, RN, JD. “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the vital importance of having a modern and resilient healthcare infrastructure to protect our patients and communities during public health emergencies. In addition, funding for graduate medical education is essential to train the next generation of physicians who will provide care for a diverse, aging population.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that hospitals and health care providers are vital components of the nation’s public health infrastructure,” said Greater New York Hospital Association president Kenneth E. Raske. “While health care providers made tremendous sacrifices throughout the pandemic, they now need Federal investment to navigate COVID-19-related financial challenges and rebuild their deteriorating infrastructure. GNYHA is extremely grateful to Representative Rice for her efforts to provide infrastructure funding to providers in New York and across the country.”

Several members of New York’s congressional delegation joined Rice on her letter to Congressional leadership, including U.S. Representatives Jaamal Bowman (NY-16), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Brian Higgins (NY-26), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Mondaire  Jones (NY-17), Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05), Grace Meng (NY-06), Joseph Morelle (NY-25), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Jerry Nadler (NY-10), Tom Suozzi (NY-03), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Ritchie Torres (NY-14) , and Nydia Velázquez (NY-07).

The full text of the letter addressed to Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Leader Schumer, and Leader McConnell can be found below and here.

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Leader Schumer, and Leader McConnell:

Thank you for your ongoing work to address the nation’s aging infrastructure. As negotiations on a comprehensive infrastructure package continue, we respectfully request your leadership in ensuring the inclusion of robust investments in infrastructure funding for hospitals and health systems. Our hospitals provide an essential public benefit and should be part of this historic opportunity to invest in the nation’s critical infrastructure needs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a resilient and modernized healthcare infrastructure—and the glaring infrastructure gaps caused by the persistent underfunding of and fiscal challenges faced by healthcare providers. Congress took important actions to help providers maintain healthcare access, protect patients, and curb the spread of the virus throughout the pandemic. But as we look forward toward recovery and prepare for the next pandemic, we must recognize that the COVID-19 response in New York in particular created fiscal devastation that has stalled healthcare infrastructure projects and placed other innovations on hold, many indefinitely.

Even before 2020 and the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and response, New York’s nonprofit and public hospitals and health systems as a group have disproportionately suffered from persistently weak financial conditions driven by low reimbursement levels across all payers. Low margins stifle opportunities to reinvest in buildings and modernization and reduce access to capital markets for affordable loans. Such dire financial conditions have resulted in a single key infrastructure metric: collectively, New York hospitals’ physical plants are the oldest in the nation.

Despite these challenges, our hospitals and health systems are essential to New York’s economy, generating $176 billion in economic activity, creating nearly 864,000 jobs combined, and providing substantial community benefits and investments. Adhering to their charitable mission, New York’s nonprofit, non-public hospitals expend $12.3 billion, with the state’s public hospitals contributing billions more each year to cover the cost of care provided to low-income, elderly and under-served communities, and continuously investing in community health initiatives. We cannot abandon these community anchors—the very hospitals and health systems that led us through the pandemic from the front lines.

Hospital and health system infrastructure investments must go beyond building modernization and physical improvements. They must also include key workforce, preparedness, and digital infrastructure. Substantial federal support for healthcare workforce programs—including graduate medical education and increasing the number of Medicare-reimbursed residency positions in the nation’s teaching hospitals— will ensure that providers can continue to serve their communities.

We look forward to working with you toward these goals. Thank you for your leadership.

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