Memo of Support: A2986/S5144 (Hospital Closures)

Posted October 20, 2020 by Amanda Dunker

Memorandum in Support of A.2986/S.5144

May 2019

An Act to amend the Public Health Law, in relation to the closure of hospitals

Health Care for All New York (HCFANY) is a statewide coalition of consumer-focused organizations dedicated to achieving quality, affordable health coverage for all New Yorkers, and ensuring that the concerns of real New Yorkers are heard and reflected in policy conversations. We support A.2986/S.5144, which would require public notice and a public hearing in advance of a planned hospital closure, in order to gather consumer comments that can inform a final closure plan.

Over the last 20 years, 41 hospitals have closed across New York State, leaving consumers with diminished options for timely, affordable health care. Unfortunately, the Public Health Law currently requires a public hearing 30 days after the closure, which is too late to identify likely service gaps that would be created by the closure and develop means of addressing those gaps. It is critical that affected consumers have a say about such momentous changes to their local health delivery systems. Under this bill, public officials in the affected area would receive advance notice about a proposed hospital closure and there would be a public hearing to gather consumer comments before the closing. We support this bill and suggest amendments to strengthen it, including:

  • Making the provisions of this bill apply statewide, instead of just in New York City, and
    apply to the closures of time-sensitive hospital services, such as emergency departments and
    maternity care. Closures of hospitals, EDs and maternity units in have negatively affected
    local consumers across the state.
  • Ensuring that the general public is notified, in addition to notification of local elected
    officials, 90 days in advance of a planned closure.
  • Requiring a public hearing in the affected community, at night or on a weekend, at least 60
    days in advance of a planned closure.
  • Requiring that a final closure plan address concerns raised by consumers.

HCFANY strongly urges the enactment of this bill and supports the proposed amendments
described above.