N.Y. City hospitals must beef up numbers, says watchdog

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Attracting new patients and insurance enrollees is pivotal to the financial turnaround of New York City’s Health + Hospitals unit, according to the watchdog Citizens Budget Commission.

In its fiscal 2017 progress report on the city, CBC noted that the number of unique patients served H+H serves, both inpatient and outpatient, declined by 3% in fiscal 2017, following a 0.3% decline in the prior year.

The average number of MetroPlus program enrollees reached 503,044 in FY17, up 0.4% from the previous fiscal year, but MetroPlus enrollment has trended downward from a high of 509,186 in December 2016 to 499,587 in May 2017.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's prescription for propping up a teetering unit, whose deficit had been pegged to reach $1.8 billion by fiscal 2020, called for a mix of expense savings and new revenue.

Health + Hospitals, the largest municipal hospital and health care system in the country, includes 11 acute care hospitals, six Gotham Health neighborhood health centers, five skilled nursing facilities, and more than 60 community and school-based health centers.

Overall, the CBC gave the de Blasio administration mixed results.

It said crime rates continue to fall, more students are graduating in four years now than in the recent past, and the city is making progress on the housing plan. Concerns, in addition to Health + Hospitals, include the homeless shelter population and safety in city jails.

CBC said the New York City Housing Authority is taking steps to becoming a more responsible landlord.

According to CBC data, it took NYCHA an average of 12.1 hours to resolve an emergency service request, 7.6% shorter than fiscal 2016. Response time to non-emergency service requests, however, increased 19% percent, reaching 17.5 days.

“This is longer than in fiscal 2016 and 2015, but a substantial improvement on response times in the 28- to 43-day range in fiscal 2011 to 2014,” said CBC.

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Infrastructure City of New York, NY New York City Health + Hospitals New York