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March 2, 2012

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Making a pitch for SUNY


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Upstate Medical University Chapter Member Keith Munz, center, makes a case for more state funding for SUNY to Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz (D-Flushing) as UUPers Brian Tappan, left, and Marc Dearstyne, right, listen.

UUP’s push to fight the possible closure of Downstate Medical Center’s University Hospital met with approval from several lawmakers during the union’s visit to Albany on Feb. 29.

Legislators listened intently as 10 UUPers urged them to add $25 million to the state budget for more full-time faculty and an additional $68 million in state subsidies to fund teaching hospitals in Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse.

A state-appointed committee led by Wall Street millionaire financier Stephen Berger wants to shut down the hospital and move inpatient services to Downstate’s Long Island College Hospital (LICH).

Thousands of Brooklyn residents would lose health care services and more than 1,500 jobs would be lost if the hospital closes. The hospital’s emergency room, which served more than 64,000 patients last year, would also close under the plan.

One legislator, Assemblyman Daniel P. Losquardo (R, C-Shoreham), said he strongly supported keeping University Hospital open to provide needed services to the people of Brooklyn. The teaching aspect of the hospital is also very important.

“This is something that’s very high on my agenda,” Losquardo told union advocates. Medical training is an important part of what we do at SUNY.”

Lawmakers were far more reserved when it came to the proposed Tier VI pension plan being championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Losquardo and Assemblymen Ken Blankenbush (R-C, Black River) said they firmly supported the concept behind Tier VI and wanted more information about the plan before making a final decision.

“Something has to change,” said Losquardo. “We need to have a more sustainable model.”

UUPers visited the offices of 20 legislators on this latest visit to Albany. UUPers are scheduled to take part in NYSUT’s Higher Education Lobby Day in Albany on March 5-6.


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