March 25, 2014

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Downstate advocates make late budget appeal

uupdate 3-17-14

Downstate Chapter President Rowena Blackman-Stroud, center, speaks out to defend jobs and services at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.

Blackman-Stroud, accompanied by members from Downstate, representatives of the Brooklyn-based SUNY Downstate Coalition of Faith, Labor and Community Leaders, and other chapters, met with lawmakers March 25 in Albany—less than a week before the deadline for passage of a new state budget.

They urged lawmakers to reject proposed Article VII language in the Executive Budget, which would allow private corporations to operate SUNY hospitals.

“We know what happens when a hospital becomes for-profit,” Blackman-Stroud told an aide to Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn). “Services that are not profitable are negatively affected.”

Blackman-Stroud, the union’s statewide treasurer, cautioned that Downstate’s fate has implications for SUNY’s teaching hospitals in Stony Brook and Syracuse. “Whatever happens to Downstate has the potential to affect all SUNY hospitals,” she said.

The advocates, which included Upstate Medical University Chapter members, pressed legislators to keep Downstate a full-service, public hospital. They called for the restoration of the state hospital subsidy to $128 million, the amount allocated in the 2010-11 state budget. The increase would protect health care services at Downstate and benefit SUNY’s other teaching hospitals.

Other UUP advocates pushed state elected officials to increase funding for SUNY in the 2014-15 state budget and to support the creation of a public higher education endowment.

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