June 5, 2013

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Leader testifies against Downstate downsizing

uupdate 6-5-13

Saying job cuts mean cuts in health care services, UUP President Fred Kowal told a state Senate public hearing that SUNY Downstate’s University Hospital is essential to meet Brooklyn’s health care needs.

Flanked by UUP Downstate Chapter President Rowena Blackman-Stroud, Kowal testified along with other union leaders at a June 4 hearing in Albany conducted by the Senate Higher Education and Health committees. The hearing focused on the sustainability plan SUNY submitted for Downstate that calls for downsizing University Hospital with the loss of an estimated 500 jobs.

Kowal said Downstate needs to be enhanced, not cut back.

“The combination of the health care needs of Brooklyn’s residents and the crucial role that Downstate plays in the training of medical professionals to serve these residents requires an enhanced presence for Downstate Medical Center within SUNY,” Kowal testified. “This enhanced presence requires funding to overcome past shortfalls in budgets and financially questionable decisions by past hospital administrations. Failure to provide requisite funding will lead to severe repercussions for the already weak economy of Brooklyn, where more than a quarter of the residents live in poverty.”

Kowal said the solution is to have the state properly fund University Hospital and restructure it with a heavier emphasis on primary care as called for in the Affordable Care Act.

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