Caregivers rally against Medicaid cuts

Stephon Johnson | 3/14/2019, 9:45 a.m.
Last week, caregivers rallied at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and Brookdale Hospital respectively to protest potential Medicaid cuts by Albany legislators.
Home health aide worker with patient Flickr

Last week, caregivers rallied at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and Brookdale Hospital respectively to protest potential Medicaid cuts by Albany legislators.

More than 1,000 caregivers—members of 1199SEIU—took to Brookdale Hospital to protest potential Medicaid cuts that were proposed to balance the state budget. The rally was part of an entire week of rallies hoping to stop the cuts.

Amy Plasencia, MD, a vice president with the Committee of Interns and Residents, practicing at Brookdale, said that cuts to Medicaid could also be called cuts to human lives.

“Without Medicaid funding, millions of patients across the country are going to be left without medications, tests and lifesaving procedures,” stated Plasencia. “We won’t be able to provide the best quality of care. STOP THE CUTS!”

“It’s really important that all of us are out here fighting this fight,” added New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “This cut would be devastating to community based hospitals, especially in this part of Brooklyn.”

New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget includes a potential $657 million in cuts to Medicaid. The governor’s original budget included a $39 million cut, but after the Cuomo administration realized the state faced a $2.3 billion shortfall, they added another $618 million in Medicaid cuts to close the gap.

The governor blamed President Donald Trump’s administration for changing the way state and local taxes were deducted for the budget shortfall and claimed that the higher tax burden is making wealthy New Yorkers relocate to other states.

Cuomo initially planned for a 2 percent increase in hospital Medicaid payments, but axed the plan once he learned of the budget shortfall. Federally, the Trump administration’s proposed budget calls for a $241 billion cut to Medicaid and an $845 billion cut to Medicare. Trump promised U.S. citizens that he would not cut money from either. The military and defense spending budget would see an increase.

The rallies continued during the week, however, as hundreds of caregivers rallied outside of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital to protest potential healthcare cuts. One union official stated that its members are fighting the budget cuts not only for their sake, but also for the community’s sake.

“Cutting almost 100 million dollars would be a catastrophe for Columbia Presbyterian and the Washington Heights community it serves,” stated 1199SEIU Vice President Michael Ashby. “Some of the city’s most vulnerable residents live in the Heights. For them, Presbyterian is their only health care option. Our members and the community are standing up as one to oppose these cuts.”

“These Medicaid cuts are going to affect individuals and our community as a whole,” added Presbyterian employee and union member Moises Reyes to those in attendance. “We at New York Presbyterian stand to lose tens of millions of dollars if these cuts go through, and it’s unacceptable.”