FED AUTHORITIES PICKING UP THE BALL DROPPED BY NYS DEPT. OF HEALTH, GOV. CUOMO
A legislative column by Assemblyman Michael A. Montesano (R,I,C-Glen Head)
September 4, 2013
I recently petitioned the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Competition – Healthcare Services to investigate the North Shore LIJ’s recently-announced changes to Glen Cove Hospital. As everyone knows, these changes
would cost 1,200 hospital employees their jobs and severely impinge the abilities of the over 50,000 community members who rely on the hospital to receive the treatment and attention they need and deserve. While my letter to the FTC has come under some scrutiny from figures such as Cynthia Kouril of the Long Island Democratic Lawyers Council for not requesting state intervention, the fact of the matter is that the state officials responsible for oversight in this matter dropped the ball.
On July 30, I sent a letter to Dr. Nirav Shah, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, urging him to look into North Shore LIJ’s proposed changes to Glen Cove Hospital. To date, Dr. Shah and the Department of Health have been unresponsive to my call for action. Considering that the Department of Health takes its marching orders from the governor’s office, I am not surprised. On top of my actions, local officials here in Glen Cove have petitioned Gov. Andrew Cuomo to look into this matter, to no avail.
The CEO of North Shore LIJ, Michael Dowling, was a co-chair on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Medicaid redesign team and served as state director of Health, Education and Human Services and deputy secretary to former Gov. Mario Cuomo. It stands to reason that this governor and his Department of Health would turn a blind eye to the plight of Glen Cove Hospital, since it has been perpetrated by an organization led by an individual with close ties to the current administration. With this administration’s willingness to let political cronies thrive at our community hospital’s detriment, appealing to the Federal Trade Commission was the only recourse available.
I’m pleased to announce that this effort was fruitful, as the FTC has referred the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice, who is now in the process of reviewing the monopolistic practices of North Shore LIJ for the second time in the past two decades. While it’s welcome news that federal authorities are looking into a matter that has serious ramifications for our residents, I’m appalled that our state officials so easily turned a blind eye to such a serious matter. It’s clear to me that this inaction proves that the Cuomo administration’s interests do not coincide with ours.