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Proposed Cuts May Be Fatal To CRMC

By Dan Hust
HARRIS — February 27, 2007 — Catskill Regional Medical Center (CRMC) officials are so concerned about Governor Eliot Spitzer’s proposed budget, they called a press conference about it Wednesday.
The very life of the Harris and Callicoon hospitals might be at stake, they said.
“The Medicaid reductions proposed by the governor threaten the existence of this hospital,” Chief Financial Officer Nick Lanza told the media. “The proposal reduces revenue by $1.25 million… threatening our turnaround efforts.
“Our facility cannot withstand further cuts.”
Spitzer’s proposed reductions are in addition to cuts proposed by President George W. Bush, the combined effect of which Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther said could cost CRMC $8 million over the next four years.
If that happens, the 29-year nurse added, “we will not have healthcare in Sullivan County.”
“I think it’s very clear we’re on the edge of a precipice,” observed Priscilla Bassett, president of the Senior Legislative Action Committee (SLAC). “For us seniors, this is the only place that has its doors open to everyone.”
County Legislator and CRMC Volunteer Coordinator Jodi Goodman added that the hospital has worked very hard to keep those doors open, especially after a year with operating losses so deep that layoffs, program cuts and wage freezes have been painfully enacted.
“How do we cut back when our budget is cut to the bone?” she asked.
Roughly 65 percent of CRMC’s offerings cater to Medicaid/
Medicare patients, explained CRMC unit secretary Eve Korzelius, who helped organize the conference through her 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East union.
Lanza added that Medicare
comprises about 30 percent of the hospital’s business – around $24 million a year.
Rather than focusing on Medicare/Medicaid, officials urged the governor to go after HMOs and insurance companies, who they said make huge profits but don’t contribute “their fair share.”
Instead, conference participants accused the state of hurting the very people who need help.
“These across-the-board cuts are very unfair,” remarked Bassett. “We must put patients first.”
The governor’s office could not be reached for comment.

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