Senator Volker Statement On Hospital Closings

William T. Stachowski

November 28, 2006

(Depew, NY) Having had a chance to carefully review the findings and recommendations of the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century (the Berger Commission), I believe the report to be "fatally flawed", particularly in its treatment of Western New York Health Care facilities.

In many ways the report is a "Tale of Two Cities" applying one set of criteria for the reorganization and closure of facilities in Western New York and a completely different set of criteria to reorganization and closure in the rest of the state.The Report fails to rationalize why similarly situated institutions located in other areas of the state are treated differently than Western New York institutions.

The report claims the Commission seeks to maintain competitive balance in the delivery of health care service, yet some of its Western New York recommendations would clearly injure the competitive position of certain Western New York Health providers, while providing protection and enhanced services to other providers that the Commission indicates could be closed.

The Report erroneously assumes the Commissioner of Health has nearly dictatorial power to withhold necessary approvals for critical health service delivery systems in order to force an illogical, ill-conceived and ultimately economically catastrophic plan of health care reorganization on Western New York.

I will not support any recommendations that puts ultimate decisions as to the structure, fabric and vitality of this critically important economic engine of Western New York in the hands of un-elected faceless Albany bureaucrats. During the late 1980s and early 1990s we let the Department of Health central bureaucracy run our health care system and it was a disaster, I will not be a party to repeating those mistakes again.

The report demands the irresponsible closure of facilities with no regard for the delivery of critical health care services that could not then be absorbed by the remaining Western New York facilities and without necessary state legislation that would address the constitutional, statutory and contract rights of hospital and nursing home employees.

The report is fatally flawed and I intend to urge my colleagues to reject it.