Deal reached on Long Island College Hospital's future

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ALBANY -- State and New York City officials said Thursday they have agreed on a plan to turn Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn into an institution that promotes outpatient care over more expensive emergency room treatment.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the State University of New York said the agreement ends pending litigation and allows SUNY to end its costly operations in the hospital by May.

A new operator will be chosen under an expedited process, but there were no details about how the operator would provide service. The agreement must get court approval.

The hospital has been losing $13 million a month and has debts of more than $500 million. But many Brooklyn residents said they feared they'd lose access to nearby affordable health care if it closed. State legislators from New York City pushed in Albany to block the closing as Cuomo sought an alternative.

A federal Medicaid waiver provided $8 billion to the state to turn some hospitals into less costly community clinics. Part of that money will be used to help fund the transition of health care in Brooklyn, which could include a role for LICH.

"The reality is that yesterday's costly, inefficient models of delivering service are no longer viable options for tomorrow," Cuomo said in a statement yesterday.

He said that under the agreement SUNY will begin soliciting "a new operator for LICH that will guide the facility as it modernizes and continues its important mission of serving New Yorkers."

"For months we were told the free-fall closure of Long Island College was inevitable," de Blasio said. "We fought back."

As a mayoral candidate in July, de Blasio was arrested with several elected officials in a protest of the expected closing of the hospital.

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The emotional case came down to the wire. In January, Cuomo with de Blasio by his side in an Albany news conference said funding to keep the Brooklyn hospital open might run out this month.

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