HealthAlliance Has an Obligation to Open Reorganization Planning to the Public

HealthAlliance Established With Significant State Support and Community Involvement and They Deserve to Be Included in Restructuring Discussions
May 12, 2012

Albany, NY – Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D- Ulster, Dutchess) offered to facilitate an open and public process for the development of plans for the potential restructuring of HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley and the facilities overseen by the corporation. HealthAlliance was formed in 2007, through a collaborative effort between the state, local stakeholders and community leaders, to develop the plan that led to the partnership of the Benedictine and Kingston Hospitals. Assemblymember Cahill helped secure over $47 million in state funds to facilitate the transition.

“Seven years ago, under the threat of a state mandated closure by the Berger Commission, our hospitals, local officials and people from our community worked very closely with members of the Commission to come up with an innovative plan, one now seen as a model for the nation, to merge and strengthen our secular and religious health institutions,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “We dodged a bullet, avoiding the fate of many communities that are now suffering from the loss of their local hospitals.”

“When we first established HealthAlliance, I helped coordinate an exhaustive series of hearings and meetings throughout the region that resulted in valuable feedback and ideas from the public that lent shape to the merger agreement,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “That two year effort was critical to our success and I would welcome the opportunity to repeat the process to generate innovative cost savings initiatives in collaboration with the communities served by the organization.”

According to HealthAlliance’s most recent tax filings, the organization received at least $180 million from Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs over the course of 2009 and 2010. They were recently awarded a low-cost power allocation by the New York Power Authority that will provide immediate savings and mitigate the impact of electricity price increases for years to come. In addition to the $47 million in state assistance for the merger, $4.1 million of which was dedicated to the construction of the Foxhall Ambulatory Surgery Center for the purposes of improving access to ambulatory care services and assuring access to family planning services, the facilities affiliated with HealthAlliance have received over $4.3 million for capital projects over the last decade. The organization has also benefited from $150 million in tax-exempt bonds since 2007.

“The record speaks for itself. I am committed to working with the state to provide the resources needed to develop our institutions into regional health centers for excellence,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “There is no doubt that our hospitals are victims of an irrational federal reimbursement formula. While frustrated, I have been steadfast in my efforts to convince lawmakers in Washington to adjust the rates to the levels provided to other hospitals in the region.”

“Like many in our community, I am not ready to throw in the towel. The bottom-line is, HealthAlliance is the product of a plan built from the ground up by the communities they are obligated to serve,” Cahill said. “Any changes to that covenant must involve the full participation of the people responsible for their very existence.”