New CEO of Health and Hospital Corp. wants to improve collections, procurement

The new president of New York City's Health and Hospitals Corp. (HHC) wants to greatly improve the collection and procurement processes for the city's network of public hospitals, which he says can add $150 million a year to its finances.

Ram Raju, M.D., a trauma surgeon by training, told Capital New York that the system, which is paid about $7 billion a year to treat the city's poorest patients but has a growing budget gap, can do far better in terms of financial savvy.

"My incompetency cannot cost another person's care. And I am not going after the patients and breaking their kneecaps, I am going after the insurance company, which is supposed to pay," Raju told the publication. "If I don't collect it, they don't give it to patients. They probably buy another corporate jet. It doesn't make any sense."

Currently, the HHC projects a $430 million budget deficit for the 2015 fiscal year, and it could grow to as much as $1.4 billion by 2018. It privatized its renal care services as a cost-saving measure, and drew a torrent of criticism about potentially jeopardizing patient safety by doing so.

In addition to tightening up fiscal controls, Raju also wants nurse practitioners and physician assistants to be able to see more patients, reasoning that that is a way to expand care under relatively tiny payments from the Medicaid program for primary care. And he wants to market HHC to more patients with commercial insurance, claiming that the system is just as good as some of the private hospitals in the Big Apple.

"If you take our quality measures, we are not in any way inferior to [Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn]," Raju said. "Our outcomes are as good as anyone else and our major credit is we are a very diverse workforce. We speak more than 170 languages. You walk into my system today you can find somebody like you."

To learn more:
- read the Capital New York article