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UFT backs bill requiring city hospitals to disclose costs

New York Teacher
UFT backs bill
Mike LoVerde

City Council Member Julie Menin, with actress Susan Sarandon (fourth from right) and UFT President Michael Mulgrew (third from right) standing behind her, explains why her bill to create an Office of Healthcare Accountability is needed.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew on Dec. 7 threw the union’s support behind a City Council bill to create an Office of Healthcare Accountability that would force all city hospitals to disclose what they charge for medical procedures and make it harder for them to engage in price gouging.

“As we fight to preserve premium-free health care for city employees, this bill will add real transparency and accountability to our health care system,” said Mulgrew.

The city could be overpaying private hospitals by as much as $2.4 billion a year, according to a report commissioned by SEIU 32BJ. Manhattan Council Member Julie Menin, the bill’s sponsor, said the study showed exorbitant charges by some New York City private hospitals for key procedures, including a C-section that cost $55,077 at Montefiore Medical Center and $17,861 at NYC Health+Hospitals facilities.

“Now is the time to stop these inflationary prices and stop the hospitals from reaping billions of dollars from our friends in labor, from the private sector and from the City of New York,” said Menin.

Some of the worst offenders, said Menin, are hospitals that received city tax breaks at the same time they were charging up to three times the Medicare rate for procedures.

The Healthcare Accountability Office would audit the city’s spending on employee health care and evaluate hospitals on their adherence to pricing transparency measures, using a public website to list the prices for every medical procedure the hospitals perform, Menin said.

She said the $9.5 billion that New York City is spending on employee health care amounts to 10% of the municipal budget.

The unions in the Municipal Labor Committee have long battled hospitals over their charges.

“This is what should be happening across the country,” Mulgrew said. “Health care is a disgrace in this country. New Yorkers are saying no — we’re going to band together and we’re going to fight back.”

A hearing on the bill, which has 17 co-sponsors in the Council, will take place in January.

Related Topics: Health Benefits