Cuomo, De Blasio: Federal funds needed to keep Brooklyn hospitals open

De Blasio and Cuomo De Blasio and Cuomo Photo Credit: Mayor Bill de Blasio and Andrew Cuomo meet in Albany. (Philip Kamrass)

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An immediate infusion of federal funds would help save struggling Brooklyn hospitals that may not otherwise stay open past February, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.

State funds for Long Island College Hospital, for example, may not be available after next month, Cuomo warned. He called for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to approve a $10 billion Medicaid waiver request that would help the hospitals.

"February is the last period that I can do a modification to our budget," Cuomo said at a news conference in Albany with de Blasio. "There are no funds to continue this now."

De Blasio, a Brooklyn resident arrested last July at a rally protesting LICH's closure, added, "Give us this waiver so we can secure the long-term."

The Democrats need the waiver to direct $1 billion toward Brooklyn's health care network.

Federal cash would help transform hospitals that have more beds than necessary and can more efficiently serve patients with primary or special care services, Cuomo said.

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"Help delayed is help denied," he said. "We're at the point where if we don't get help, the system is going to collapse."

The state revised its waiver application after federal officials said the funds should not be used for capital programs.

Federal officials Monday pointed to a letter sent last week from U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to Cuomo that said their teams were working toward an agreement. The revised request seeks to broadly help Medicaid recipients and low-income patients, but the funds should not go toward determining the "future path" of specific hospitals, she wrote.

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Several proposals to replace Cobble Hill's LICH, which has more than $500 million in liabilities and is run by the State University of New York, include a complex with an outpatient care center and housing units.

"Efforts to reach a compromise agreement allowing another entity to provide health care services in the LICH community are ongoing," SUNY spokesman David Doyle said.

Bedford-Stuyvesant's Interfaith Medical Center also faces financial troubles and may be forced to shutter.

With Yancey Roy

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