The 500-bed Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow employs 3,000...

The 500-bed Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow employs 3,000 CSEA members. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Daily Point

Rescuing NUMC a challenge

Six months ago it seemed Andrew Cuomo would still be the governor of New York in 2022, and Laura Curran would still be the Nassau County executive.

Now it’s Kathy Hochul and Bruce Blakeman.

One organization that could be deeply affected by the changes is the Nassau University Medical Center. Explaining exactly how NUMC’s 15-member board is constituted is arduous, but 11 of the members are nominated by or appointed by the governor or the county executive. The county executive also appoints the board chair.

Under past Republican administrations the 19-story, 500-bed facility that sits on 50 acres in East Meadow and employs 3,000 CSEA members has been a safe harbor for GOPers needing soft landings. And the GOP has not always put leadership over partisanship with NUMC: The firing of Democratic NUMC CEO Art Gianelli in 2013 was widely perceived as pure politics.

The hospital is in dire financial straits, but COVID funding has plumped its cash pile up to about $150 million, and a proposed change in state law and federal policy on how Medicaid reimbursements work for high-need hospitals could bring in $20 million to $40 million more each year than is currently projected.

Six months ago Curran appointed Edward Farbenblum board chairman.

Now he is in the process of building a consensus that the best way to get state support and increased reimbursements from private insurers is by partnering with Stony Brook University Hospital, part of the state system.

But that could mean an end to the NUMC board itself, and the power it holds.

Incoming Nassau County Executive Blakeman told The Point Wednesday that he wants to attack the hospital’s revenue problem by raising those private payer reimbursements and by attracting new specialties and clinics to the site.

As for alliances that might better the hospital but change the power structure dramatically, Blakeman said "I would keep an open mind to anything that would keep the hospital open and ensure that it meets its mission of caring for the uninsured and the underinsured, but I’m also mindful that we’re talking about thousands of good-paying CSEA jobs, and we want to protect those too."

And it’s those jobs, and union support, that could be the key to getting Hochul and the state and Stony Brook to take a bigger role in helping NUMC, and to convince Nassau Republicans to let them.

Seeing who lands on the board under Blakeman and Hochul, and who chairs it, will say a lot.

— Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

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Adam Zyglis

Adam Zyglis

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Final Point

Hochul judicial pick may be a political message

Is the latest nomination to New York’s top court a guide into the political calculations some statewide candidates are making for the June primary?

Gov. Kathy Hochul has selected Shirley Troutman, a career judge and prosecutor, to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Court of Appeals, despite pleas by New York State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Mike Gianaris and nine other influential state senators on the progressive side of the ledger to choose a public defender.

Troutman, currently an appellate division judge, was a prosecutor in both the state and federal systems before spending almost three decades as a jurist. She was one of seven candidates whom a state screening committee sent to Hochul.

Gianaris, who is seeking a path from the left to the attorney general nomination, put down some road markers in a Sept. 27 letter to the Commission on Judicial Nominations asking it "to look beyond career jurists and prosecutors" and instead consider individuals who "have worked in civil rights, indigent defense, housing, and immigration." He wrote that members of the panel should consider an individual’s "lived experience."

Once the list of qualified nominees was made public, Gianaris wrote to Hochul recommending two candidates with extensive experience working in the public defender sector, Timothy Murphy and Corey Stoughton, whom he said offered "diversity of thought and background." On the second letter, Gianaris had nine co-signers, including leading progressives in the state senate such as Brad Hoylman, Alexandria Biaggi, Julia Salazar and Zellnor Myrie.

But Hochul had a relationship with Troutman from Buffalo circles, and the judge swore her in as Cuomo’s lieutenant governor in 2015. However, Troutman’s confirmation would mean that four of the seven on the top court have prosecutorial backgrounds. Madeline Singas, the former Nassau County district attorney, was confirmed in July by an unusually close 38-26 vote because of opposition from the left.

Hochul’s choice does signal that she is not straying much from her moderate positions to win the Democratic nomination. "She is not beholden to any ideology, she is a pragmatist," one of her aides told the Point.

The question is what does Gianaris do? After Singas’ confirmation, outraged progressive senators told the New York Law Journal that they felt Gianaris was reluctant to lead a fight against the Nassau DA because of the support she had from their shared base in the Greek community. But Troutman, who would be the second black woman on the state’s highest court, poses a different identity challenge for the progressive caucus. Hochul’s news release announcing Troutman’s nomination contains a quote from NAACP president Hazel Dukes that appears to come right back at Gianaris. Dukes notes that Troutman "has the lived experience to ensure she treats all who come before her with compassion, dignity and respect."

State senate progressives have not signaled whether they would attempt to block Troutman.

"We take seriously our constitutional role in this process," said Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the Democratic conference.

— Rita Ciolli @ritaciolli

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