ALBANY -- Despite antitrust objections by the state attorney general, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has signed a new law that will let Nassau Health Care Corp. collaborate with North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System on certain functions.
Nassau Health Care Corp., widely known as NuHealth, had lobbied for the approval, saying the partnership with North Shore-LIJ was vital to its financial future. Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) sponsored the bill and said a Cuomo veto "may put NuHealth out of business."
Cuomo approved the bill without comment, his aides said Thursday.
NuHealth president and chief executive Arthur A. Gianelli hailed the governor's decision.
"This landmark legislation will permit NuHealth to maintain its public status and mission while collaborating with other health care facilities to achieve improvements in clinical outcomes, to share services with the goal of reducing costs of purchasing and back-office functions, and, finally, to jointly negotiate reimbursement rates with commercial payers," Gianelli said in an email.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had urged the governor to kill the measure, contending it could violate antitrust laws meant to protect patients and prevent one entity from accumulating too much market power. His office sent a lengthy memo to Cuomo outlining why he should veto it. Schneiderman officials declined to comment Thursday.
A key passage in the bill said that NuHealth "shall be immunized from liability under federal and state antitrust laws." Schneiderman's office called that an "overbroad and excessive" exemption that could lead to future problems. Schneiderman's office said it wasn't opposed to NuHealth partnerships in general but that the state should weigh the specifics of any proposed collaboration and then provide only "very narrow" antitrust exemptions.
NuHealth is a public benefit corporation that includes Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility in Uniondale and five community health care centers. NuHealth has been working to strengthen ties to North Shore-LIJ.Though the legislation doesn't specifically name North Shore-LIJ, it clears the way for NuHealth to join forces with a private entity to share some functions. It says NuHealth and its partner could consolidate "unneeded or duplicative health care services" and could negotiate rates with hospitals, physicians and insurance companies.