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Letter: Proceed cautiously on health change

Steve Bellone reflects on his first year in

Steve Bellone reflects on his first year in office as Suffolk County executive. (Jan. 2, 2013) Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

The League of Women Voters of Suffolk County is aware of the financial crisis affecting our county revenues. However, as reported in Newsday on March 12, County Executive Steve Bellone's administration is "pressing ahead with ambitious efforts to shift direct care to third party providers to cut labor costs, gain higher aid reimbursements and jettison malpractice expenses" ["Bellone's plan for Suffolk: Get out of health care," News]. Bellone aides say the changes will enhance, not diminish services.

The League begs to differ. We are particularly concerned about using a waiver to avoid the normal bid process and to rush. The decision to privatize a public service should be made after an informed, transparent planning process and a thorough analysis of the implications. We also need a report on Hudson River HealthCare's performance.

The county executive has filed closure plans with the state for the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility, leaving no local option in place for the current residents of that facility. It also appears that the thousands of county residents who need the current county health care centers may soon be without a comparable alternative for their needs.

Lisa Scott, Stony Brook

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the League of Women Voters of Suffolk County.