Privatizing SUNY hospitals is the wrong thing for New Yorkers!

SUNY Upstate Medical University's hospital is in grave danger of being privatized. If it's privatized, and taken out of SUNY, it's likely that any services that don't turn a profit will be shut down - and that would include the only level one trauma center in the 14 counties surrounding Syracuse and the only burn unit serving the surrounding 27 counties. For some in Upstate New York, the distance to a level one trauma center would double.

Simply put, taking Upstate out of the SUNY system and privatizing it would cost lives in Upstate New York.

At this time, when it's becoming clear that privatization of medical services contributed to the problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, I think it would be a mistake to privatize public hospitals here in New York.

There are other reasons not to weaken SUNY Upstate Medical University. SUNY Upstate is a critical source of physicians for Upstate New York. It's also a serious research center with a major economic impact on the region, not only in terms of jobs, but also in terms of contributing to Upstate New York's position in the knowledge-based economy.

Governor, I believe in your commitment to Upstate New York. Preventing the privatization of this hospital would not only save lives, but it would also show the people of Upstate New York that you are strongly committed to the region and its future. Please don't let this vital public institution be privatized.

I am outraged that the Final Report of the Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century has become law.

The proposals to privatize the SUNY hospitals at Syracuse, Brooklyn and Stony Brook, as well as the Buffalo Health Science Center, have been rejected by the Legislature several years running as being a bad idea. No evidence has emerged to suggest that suddenly it's a good idea. Privatization would devastate the SUNY hospitals and the communities that rely on them for medical care, medical education, and the economic impact of they provide.

It is vital that you and the Legislature take a detailed look at the implications of these changes now that they are scheduled to take place, and amend them before they cause irreparable harm. In fact, there are compelling reasons for New York State to continue to manage and promote these essential institutions.

The SUNY hospitals provide top-notch medical care to all citizens of New York regardless of their ability to pay. They perform cutting-edge research, as well as accomplish their mission of providing affordable, accessible medical education to the next generation of doctors, nurses and other health care providers. They provide unique, life-saving critical care services not readily available at other hospitals. The SUNY hospitals and HSCs also operate as engines of economic development and are among the leading employers in their respective locations.

The SUNY hospitals are very well managed. A recent study by Price Water House Coopers found that the SUNY hospitals operate more efficiently than 75 percent of their peers. The real problem is that these institutions have not received the funding needed to become self-sufficient. Privatization is not the solution. Rather, increased state funding is the solution.

In a nutshell, privatization would jeopardize accountability, put SUNY's important public health mission at risk, and threaten the quality of medical education in New York State.

The evidence, when looked at objectively and without political bias, clearly shows the need to continue to allow SUNY to manage these important health care institutions and provide the highest quality medical education and health care for New York's students and citizens. I implore you and the Legislature to act to derail the now mandated Berger Commissions proposals and keep the SUNY hospitals and Health Sciences Centers in the public sector where they belong, before it's too late.


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