Hospital Consolidation Law Proposed
By Joyce Kryszak
Buffalo, NY – The State Health Commissioner has submitted the long-awaited proposed legislation that, if approved, would give the new joint hospital board authority over the Erie County Medical Center.
The Berger Commission required that a law be submitted and passed by June 30. But crafting a law that would satisfy all sides in the merger issue was a delicate balancing act.
It does not call for a dissolution of ECMC's public benefit corporation as that hospital and the county wanted. Unions, for example, would remain. But Newco board chairman Robert Gioia said the proposed legislation addresses the biggest concerns. He said it takes away the county's financial liability and calls for revenue sharing that protects ECMC. Gioia believes everyone will be satisfied with the law.
But ECMC officials say they are not satisfied with the language. Vice President Tom Quatroche said nuancces in the law's language could leave the hospital and taxpayers out in the cold.
The hospital's board would be appointed by the state, rather than the county. And the joint board would also have authority. Furthermore, Quatroche said the revenue sharing as outlined, as well as other provisions, are not safeguards against the hospital being essentially taken over.
He said the hospital will continue with its lawsuit that claims the Berger Commission's directives are being ignored. The County Executive was not immediately available to say whether or not the county will now be willing to exit that lawsuit. And state lawmakers have yet to weigh in on the proposed legislation, or if they will support passing it by the June 30 deadline.
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