LICH, which has been in operation in Cobble Hill for over 150 years, was acquired by SUNY Downstate in 2011. Since then the hospital has been losing money, according to Robert Bellafiore, a spokesperson for SUNY.
LICH’s client base is predominately Medicare and Medicaid patients who pay significantly less than private insurance patients. According to Bellafiore, LICH is losing roughly $1 million a week.
At the rally, Dr. Alice Garner, chief of Neonatology at LICH, said that she blames upper management and not the patients for the money woes. She claims that last year alone, she personally billed over $1.6 million at LICH, but only $200,000 was collected.
“We’ve been talking about mismanagement,” she said, “but when is someone going to name names?”
LICH supporters argue 90 percent of the beds at LICH are filled, which means that money should be sustaining the hospital. However, according to Bellafiore “patients in beds don’t generate enough revenue.”
He said the majority of patients at LICH are using state-funded policies that leave the hospital performing procedures that end up costing more money than the reimbursement.
However, Bellafiore admitted that he was familiar with the case of Garner and that LICH had problems with its billing system.
Stephen Berger, chair of the Health System Redesign: Brooklyn Work Group, agreed that LICH needed to be closed.
“Utilization levels make clear that the residents of Cobble Hill and Brooklyn Heights do not consider LICH their hospital of choice,” he said.
In a letter to SUNY and in a public hearing at Borough Hall, Berger made it clear that his team found it to be true that Cobble Hill residents were seeking treatment from Manhattan facilities and disregarding LICH, a notion community members refute.
Community members, as well as local elected officials, are appealing to the governor in an attempt to save the hospital, as the state would have to approve any closure of a health facility.
Assemblywoman Joan Millman and State Senator Daniel Squadron were in attendance at the rally and both spoke about the need for this hospital to stay open.