For those of us who interact with New York State processes on a regular basis, it is often very frustrating to see how difficult it is to move issues through the state process. The legislative process can be demanding, frustratingly slow, and often unresponsive to requests and needs.
It is interesting to have watched as the State Legislature quickly and decisively pass new gun control laws in the State of New York in response to the recent Newtown, Connecticut shootings. It does show that the legislature can act quickly and can accomplish important and meaningful work.
From where I sit, there are a number of other areas where it would be nice to see quick and decisive action to assist the healthcare provider community, University Hospital, and our patients. Let me layout some hopes for areas where I would like to see a quick and decisive legislative action:
- Medical Malpractice Reform – Doctors in New York State pay some of the highest rates in the nation. Our malpractice system is archaic. We are one of the few states where there is no pre-trial discovery deposition of expert witnesses. This leads to terribly inefficient legal proceedings. There is no cap on pain and suffering. There is no process for early review and adjudication of frivolous claims.
- Poison Control Center Funding – It would be wonderful if the legislature could figure out a way to ensure that the Poison Centers in New York State are properly funded. They provide enormous public education and practical information to the citizens of New York. Recent changes in the Poison Center configuration, now leaving only two Poison Centers in the state, came about with insufficient funding to meet the operational needs. Wouldn’t it be nice if this was fixed?
- Capital Investment in Healthcare Facilities – The state manages its borrowing under a bond cap that relates to the total personal income tax of New York taxpayers. The statute is currently bumping up against the bond cap. This inhibits the ability of institutions like University Hospital to access needed capital to stay current in the hospital market, to refresh its existing facilities, and to provide necessary medical services to patients. A better system needs to be in place to allow not only the SUNY hospitals, but others to access capital.
- Flexibility for SUNY Hospitals – Buying things and getting services in the SUNY hospital system is a very long, arduous, and difficult process. To be nimble hospitals in an ever-changing healthcare environment, we need additional flexibility in our procurement processes and our contracting processes.
- Finally, let me speak to one legislative issue that I hope does not come to fruition – mandated nursing ratios. Again, in this legislative session there will be a push for state mandated legislated nursing staffing ratios. For many, many reasons, that we might discuss in the future blog, I don’t see this as a positive impact to our hospital or to our patient care.
Again, I am heartened by the recent ability of the legislature to act quickly and decisively. I hope they could accomplish at least a few items on my wish list, as it will improve hospital operations, ensure the viability of a regional medical center like Upstate, and benefit the patients in New York State.