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Nassau County to pay $30.8 million to NUMC to settle back debt

Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.

Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran's administration has agreed to pay $30.8 million to the parent organization of Nassau University Medical Center for unpaid bills for health care services provided at the county jail and the A. Holly Patterson nursing home.

Board members of NuHealth, the public benefit corporation that runs the East Meadow public hospital, approved the settlement in a unanimous vote Thursday night. The resolution covered outstanding invoices dating back to 1999, said NuHealth general counsel Megan Ryan.

The settlement also must be approved by the Nassau County Legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which controls county finances.

Funding for the settlement has been built into the county's multiyear financial plan, administration officials said. In 2019, the county had offered $16.6 million to settle the dispute.

Curran said the agreement "brings closure to a long-standing issue that has plagued Nassau County for decades."

"As the county’s only safety net hospital system, Nassau is committed to working with all of our community stakeholders to ensure the long-term financial stability of programs and services that serve our most vulnerable population," said Curran, a Democrat up for reelection in November.

Robert Detor, chairman of the board of NuHealth, also known as Nassau Health Care Corporation, said the settlement will bring much needed fiscal stability to NUMC.

Detor said neither layoffs nor program cuts were under discussion.

"It gives us a little breathing room to figure out the future of Nassau Health Care Corporation," said Detor, who was appointed last year.

A NIFA-commissioned report in October 2020 showed NuHealth faced an operating loss of $112 million to $197 million in 2021.

Hospital board members and union leaders have criticized the county for not paying its debt.

During the course of the dispute, for instance, the county denied $1.48 million in hospital claims for retiree benefits and termination pay, saying NuHealth had permitted "excessive leave usage prior to retirement."

Curran spokesman Michael Fricchione said the new agreement settles that and other disagreements.

CSEA Long Island regional president Jerry Laricchiuta, who represented the 3,300 union members at the hospital during the dispute, applauded the Curran administration for settling.

"This hospital is in need of funds and we need this hospital to continue to provide health care to the residents of the county," Laricchiuta said Thursday.

NUMC CEO Dr. Anthony Boutin said he was "pleased" the two sides were able to reach an agreement.

Besides settling unpaid claims for health care services and programs, the settlement addresses rent for NuHealth-owned properties leased by county departments.

The agreement also helps clarify terms and responsibilities that date back to the original 1999 Separation Agreement that established Nassau Health Care Corporation.

Resolution of the dispute required tedious documentation and providing invoices dating back decades, Detor said.

With Scott Eidler

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