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Federal Money Approved to Sustain Struggling Brooklyn Hospitals

By Nikhita Venugopal | February 13, 2014 8:16pm
 Long Island College Hospital at 339 Hicks St., in Cobble Hill.
Long Island College Hospital at 339 Hicks St., in Cobble Hill.
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University Hospital of Brooklyn

BROOKLYN — The federal government approved a plan that would allow state officials to re-invest $8 billion into its healthcare system, officials said Thursday.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the money would be used over five years to “transform New York’s health care system.”

The move could also be vital in saving three struggling Brooklyn hospitals – Long Island College Hospital, Brookdale Medical Center and Interfaith Medical Center.

“[I]t is clearly the biggest step forward towards a positive conclusion for our communities, particularly in Brooklyn, that have suffered from diminishing health care services,” Cuomo said, in a statement.

The approval from the Obama administration comes 19 months after the state, which will be reviewing the terms and conditions of the agreement, submitted a request for funds through a Medicaid waiver.

The United States Department of Health and Human Services’s approval of $8 billion is $2 billion shy of the state’s $10 billion request.

“Securing this waiver will address those needs, allowing us to increase access and improve the quality of care for New Yorkers while making New York’s health care system a model for the entire nation,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio presented a united front last month as they warned that the three Brooklyn hospitals would close soon without an influx of cash from the federal government. 

But earlier this month, a member of the Cuomo administration said that Cobble Hill’s LICH wasn’t eligible for the Medicaid waiver funds since that money was earmarked for institutions that have a credible plan to reduce patient admissions by 25 percent.

Five bidders have presented redevelopment plans for LICH but only one will operate it as a full service hospital — something that the community and local politicians have been fighting for.

The State University of New York, LICH’s current operator, said it will continue its plan to give up the hospital.

“The waiver does not alter SUNY's plans to exit the operation of LICH,” spokesman David Doyle said in an email to DNAinfo New York.

“‎SUNY will continue to play a role in the state's efforts to transform Brooklyn health care through our medical school at SUNY Downstate and University Hospital.”