New York, N.Y. - Today, DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts, head of the city's largest public employee union, released a new DC 37 white paper "Public Health Care Under the Knife," the union's response to the NYC Health and Hospitals Corp. plan titled "Restructuring HHC: The Road Ahead." This is the latest in a series of white papers issued by District Council 37 exposing millions of dollars-$9.2 billion-in unnecessary costs to taxpayers due to waste, privatization and inefficiency in city agencies.
"HHC paid Deloitte, LLP almost $4 million in taxpayer money for a plan that fails to take into account the concerns of the community it serves and the public workers who provide vital health care services," said DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts. "Our city has endured an economic crisis lasting several years, with more uninsured patients than ever turning to HHC for care - over 450,000 in 2009, up from 396,000 in 2006. Yet HHC's misguided plan proposes eliminating 3,700 full time equivalent employees in support services, laundry, trades and other essential titles by fiscal year 2014 and contracting some of this work to the private sector. This is an unconscionable waste of human resources and taxpayer money that undermines quality health care at HHC facilities."
In its report, DC 37 points out that HHC has put skilled trades' workers and laborers on the chopping block and revived privatization plans for Brooklyn Central Laundry. The types of jobs most heavily targeted in HHC's plan include many that DC 37 represents: entry-level jobs, low paid jobs, unskilled jobs and support jobs that start a worker on a career ladder in health care and support surrounding communities where they live, send their children to school and spend money.
In "Health Care Under the Knife," DC 37 critiques specific aspects of Deloitte's plan for HHC:
- Conflict of Interest: Deloitte recommends contracting out Brooklyn Central Laundry services, but has a direct relationship with Sodexo Corp. and Angelica Linen Services, private out-of-state companies that could pick up millions of taxpayer dollars by doing this work.
- Insufficient Input from the Community and Frontline Staff: Offers by DC 37, other municipal unions and community health care advocates to assist with a restructuring plan were rebuffed by HHC.
- Deeply Flawed Cost-Benefit Analysis: Deloitte's private-sector cost efficiency models are not appropriate for evaluating public services; nowhere does the report discuss quality patient care or staff-to-patient ratios.
- Lack of Transparency: Deloitte does not identify the nationally recognized benchmarks it claims to have compared HHC to; its report offers no citations, no sources and no public data on the comparisons.
- Slash-and-Burn Restructuring: Financial waste and adverse community impact would result from Deloitte's proposed privatization of Brooklyn Central Laundry, Dialysis Services, and Laboratories as well as its plan for reckless downsizing in other areas (laying off laborers and closing clinics.)
- Reducing Access to Services: Deloitte's suggested consolidation of some services, such as orthopedic services, could unduly limit patients' access to care.
District Council 37 supports two positive initiatives contained in the plan: A proposal to contract in information technology services for a savings of $5 million and a recommendation for increasing HHC's revenue by $135 million through improved documentation of patient care and better coding procedures. The union also offers the following recommendations of its own.
DC 37 Recommendations for Savings at HHC:
- Terminating the contract with Sodexo and returning HHC's Cook-Chill food service to in-house management.
- Increasing the enrollment of patients in HHC's MetroPlus HMO.
- Expanding the MAP on-site offices to maximize HHC's ability to capture revenue.
- Developing contracting-in initiatives for fee collection, interpretation services, elevator maintenance and other trades titles, and
- Targeting revenue-producing and cost-saving job titles for backfilling, training and upgrading.
- Other steps we support include establishing a program to encourage savings by reducing contracting out; creating a task force for training and workforce development; and setting up a labor-management committee to explore how best to implement the Breakthrough initiatives (which outline recommendations for improving revenue generation, patient care and operations) on a corporation-wide basis.
District Council 37 is New York City's largest public employee union, with 125,000 members and 50,000 retirees.