Hospital Closure Protection Bill Advances Through Assembly Health Committee

April 29, 2010

When a hospital proposes to close, communities often feel they have no voice in the decision. To help include communities in the process, the Assembly Committee on Health on Tuesday approved the Hospital Closure Planning Act, sponsored by Assembly Member Rory Lancman of Queens. The bill now heads to the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means.

“The closing of a health care facility can have devastating effects on the surrounding communities,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee and multi-sponsor of the bill, A.10748. “People need to know that their concerns are being heard and that officials know what the impact will be.”

"Communities impacted by a hospital closure deserve a rational plan from the Department of Health for how those lost health care services will be provided to them elsewhere," said Assembly Member Lancman. "And that planning process needs to include input both from the community and from local health care providers who will face an added demand for services."

The bill would require the State Health Department to hold a public hearing and issue a public report detailing the impacts of a facility’s proposed closing. The report would also outline proposed actions to help meet the community’s health care needs.

“In Manhattan, the community has been up in arms about the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital. People are also concerned about what services the community will have, and who will provide them,” Gottfried said. “An enormous amount of time and effort has been put into trying to resolve that crisis, including by the State Health Department. But the community has had little formal opportunity to be heard or to know what the response is.”

The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Senator Shirley L. Huntley and is currently in the Senate Health Committee.

For more information on the two additional bills passed by the Assembly Health Committee, please contact the sponsor listed after the description below.

Lung Cancer Education and Outreach Program – Establishes an income tax check-off to fund lung cancer education and outreach. (A.8910-A, Gibson)

Certificate Issuance Fees – Permits the city of Binghamton to set the fee charged for issuing a birth or death record. Currently the fee is set by state statute at ten dollars. (A.10752, Lupardo)