February 8th, 2013
12:26 PM ET

Hospitals closing in sign of crisis

By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @SkastenbaumCNN

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) – A community in Brooklyn is fighting to keep its local hospital, Long Island College Hospital (LICH), open. However, it's drowning in debt.

Community activists like Joanne Simon says closing LICH would create a significant problem for many in the neighborhood.

[1:41] “Well there would be very few options for a lot of people. You know, there aren’t enough institutional resources, medical resources, to absorb the population and this is an area that’s growing in terms of population.”

Dr. John Williams, president of SUNY Downstate Medical Center, which owns LICH, says he has no other option but to close the community hospital.

[2:15] “With the cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and with decreased state support, and not being able to fill the hospital, we are hemorrhaging about $1 million a week in that institution.”

Caroline Steinberg of the American Hospital Association says what’s happening at LICH is not unique.

[2:35] “Hospitals around the country are facing significant threats currently. They are facing very large cuts in payment under the Accountable Care Act.”

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soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. CG

    The person being interviewed is clueless. What is the "Accountable Care Act"?

    February 14, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chris

    Yes, illegal immigrants (pardon me, undocumented aliens) are responsible for a tremendous amount of medical care expenses. So are the under/uninsured individuals also. What about all the people who go to the ER because 1) it's the weekend and I/we can't be sick on my time and 2) it takes too long to get an appointment with my regular doctor. Then when the bill comes, they are stunned at the amount and can't pay it.

    I do admit, medical care costs are out of control in this country and I have no idea what to do to contain them. One problem is doctor's are so afraid of being sued by patients that they order incredible amounts of tests to make sure they are covered. Insurers are determined to make as much profit from the insured as they can without covering as much as they can. What really amazes me is looking at an EOB and seeing the cost of services, the discounted amount from the provider, how much my insurer covers and what my part is.

    February 14, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. klargar

    For all you ignorant clueless rethuglicans and neo conservatives, Under all the noise of the retiring pope and the rouge cop in California a small article apperaed in the NY Times last week and briefly was about how the federal deficit shrunk last week due to decreasing health care costs as a result of the implementation of your oh so hated Obama care and will continue . You Imbeciles will eat your own words in 2 years when the real results of the affordable health care act come to fruition and you have no leg to stand on,.

    February 14, 2013 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  4. Devin

    What's the surprise, some politicians said this was going to start happening.

    February 13, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jorge

    I came to the 'states in 2005 to WORK and have seen the premium on my employer group health insurance go up 60%, the deductible go up 70%. The previous provider constantly failed to meet medical payments on my checkup and maintenance visits on time, and did not make the agreed payments for my daughter's hospitalization. My wife's previous doctor told her for 5 years that her excessive menstrual bleeding and pain were normal for her age, a second opinion examination last year revealed that growths in her uterus had been allowed to progress during the previous 7 years, and that because of this, a partial hysterectomy was now required. If I had kept all the premium payments on our health insurance and found a proper doctor from the outset, my wife would still have her womb and I would have been able to pay our medical expenses thrice over. Tell me again how it's us immigrants, and not the appallingly poor management of healthcare in this country, that are the cause of medical bankruptcy?????

    February 13, 2013 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
    • leonardo

      I don't know Jorge. I guess we lack common knowledge here in Dallas and the rest of the country when we see our Emergency rooms and public hospitals loaded with illegal immigrants. Those places in our area have went bankrupt on avg 3 times in the last 10 years. Do you honestly think illegal immigrants give our correct information and pay their bills? Don't act surprised. Unpaid bills ran were 3 billion at Parkland hospitals WE THE TAXPAYER had to help pay. Parkland hospital is for those like the illegal immigrant as they can't refuse service .

      February 14, 2013 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  6. Nick

    how about America immediately STOP giving many,many BILLIONS in foriegn aid to over 140 country`s are the world,many of which are oil producing countries and start using that money at home.I sure wish CNN would do a story about this and if can happen.

    February 13, 2013 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. Master

    The usa is done. Closing hospitals and the healthcare is already bad, closing police stations with crime through the roof. guns and drugs. It's a real hole of country. Pure garbage.

    February 12, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JOSE--USMC-0311

    Government Force hospitals to provide services to the 25 million illegals for free, how can they stay in business ?? Each illegals family have about 3 to 4 kids add that up in free services.

    February 11, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dann DFW

    Having worked in healthcare for two decades I can say that most hospitals that hemorrhage cash do so not because of a change in payment structure but because of a significant change in the payment population and/or poor planning and expenditures on the part of the administration.

    I seriously doubt that this hospital was financially solvent and doing well and all of a sudden started to lose $1 million per week based solely on reimbursements under Obamacare; most of which have not yet gone into effect.

    February 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • daveyoung

      This has always been an indigent care facility

      February 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carl


      II agree! Not just hospitals, but management in general is quick to blame employees for their bad decisions and poor performance. Employees do what their told. Employees do not make policy or strategy. If a ship runs aground, is it the crews fault or the captain's? If a battle is lost, is it the troops fault or the general's? If the battle is lost, the troops are dead but the general is safe in the rear pondering his next blunder. When administrators, managers and executives are finally held accountable for their bad decisions, then matters will change for the better.

      February 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • inphinity9

      Something New York might consider – In Ruskin, FL there is a large migrant population. A sliding fee scale health clinic was created for the migrants and the poor in that area in the 1970's. Privately owned, though I am sure they must get some grants and such, they could divert a number of cases from a hospital, clearly have a working business model and have recently expanded their main office in Ruskin as well as adding clinics in other locations. Maybe the answer, folks, is not polarization, but community – government working in conjunction with business and state resources, not the big brother government controls your health care the Dem's want nor the screw everyone but me, it's a dog eat dog world of the republicans.

      February 12, 2013 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Terri

      The story also ignores that "specialty care" facilities are being opened by doctors so the partners/doctors can put more money in their own pockets rather than have hospitals make the money. Doctors and big pharma are our medical problem. Blaming Obamacare is a joke.

      February 13, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. daveyoung

    Thanks Obama

    February 11, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Robert Gabelman

    God forbid there is a catastrophic even in NYC, people will not get the assistance they so critically need. Hospitals all around the city such as Cabrini, St. Vincent's, Victory Memorial have been closed and the storm-ravaged Coney Island, Bellevue and NYU are trying to recover. Is this a good time to propose closing more hospitals? There should be federal aid in some form to bail out these hospitals in a city so vulnerable to catastrophe and then just make people pay in the ER or get sent away if it means that the hospitals stay open.

    February 11, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • daveyoung

      "Government is not the solution, government is the problem".
      Ronald Reagan

      February 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

        Hey, clueless Dave, was that before or after he gave amnesty to 4 million illegal aliens?

        February 12, 2013 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jim H

    I have worked at SUNY Downstate for the past 12 years. Many employees of SUNY Downstate have many unanswered questions regarding the failed acquisition of Long Island College Hospital (LICH) and the issues raised by the Comptrollers report.

    In the SUNY 2011-12 Office of General Counsel Report dated June 2012 it states regarding the LICH acquisition, On page 16: "Accordingly, over the past year, Downstate, with outside counsel Hogan Lovells LLP, continued to diligently pursue completion of the seemingly infinite number of required steps and agreements necessary for the deal to close. OGC attorneys (mainly Kevin O’Mara, Jason Weiss, and Michael Morgan) negotiated and brought to completion an Asset Purchase Agreement and other material transaction documents for regulatory approval. "

    In the New York State Comptrollers Report he states: "A major cause of the Hospital’s fiscal stress is the acquisition of LICH on May 29, 2011."

    The NYS Comptroller added in his audit report: "The acquisitions of LICH and Victory Memorial in the midst of known underutilization and recurring operating losses suggests an overall lack of leadership and governance in planning the future of Downstate. Specifically, Downstate had not prepared comprehensive financial analyses supporting these acquisitions. Instead, current Hospital officials provided consultant studies prepared for and accepted by former Downstate management, indicating that LICH could become financially viable in the future. These studies were flawed, as they were based on business assumptions that were inconsistent with the realities faced by the Hospital and the broader Brooklyn health care community. "

    One of the Comptrollers recommendations is: Ensure that any decisions to acquire or expand hospital locations are thoroughly supported with documented financial analysis demonstrating the financial viability of such decisions.

    With that said: How did SUNY get passed, all the NYS checks and balances that are supposed to exist for Downstate to acquire LICH?

    The Comptroller reported LICH has lost money for 17 years in a row.

    Did/has someone at SUNY reviewed the financial statements of LICH?

    The answer: In the 2011 SUNY Financial Report page 4, the auditor KPMG said, "We did not audit the financial statements of certain discretely presented component units, the auxiliary service corporations, theDownstate at LICH Holding Company, Inc., the Alfred University College of Ceramics and the Cornell Statutory Colleges which represent 53% of the total assets and 47% of the total revenues of the aggregate discretely presented component units and 14% of the total assets and 12% of the total revenues of the University’s business-type activities. Those financial statements were audited by other auditors whose reports thereon have been furnished to us and, our opinions, insofar as they relate to the amounts and disclosures included for those component units, the auxiliary service corporations, the Downstate at LICH Holding Company, Inc., the Alfred University College of Ceramics and the Cornell Statutory Colleges, are based solely on the reports of the other auditors.” Dated November 17, 2011

    So the answer perhaps?

    This may cost New York State hundreds of millions of dollars before all is said and done. This will affect all the taxpayers from Buffalo, to Rochester, to Albany, to Long island paying for this mistake.

    New York State should have an open hearing examining how SUNY was able to push through the Long Island College Hospital acquisition. If there was wrong doing, there should be criminal charges. New York State failed in it's fiduciary responsibilities to insure the acquisition of Long Island College Hospital was sound fiscally!

    What happened to the "seemingly infinite number of required steps and agreements necessary for the deal to close." Did no one from N.Y.S. look at the fiscal issues before giving an okay to this deal?

    Instead of looking for simplistic answers like mergers, or hiring consultants for millions who know nothing about Brooklyn or its problems. New York State and SUNY should follow the Comptrollers recommendations: Work with the consultant, SUNY System Administration, state policy makers, union officials and the Brooklyn community to identify solutions that balance the Hospital’s need for fiscal stability with the strategic goals of Downstate as well as the health care and economic needs of the community.

    Have someone actually talk to the people of Brooklyn, the people who work here, live here, and utilize the health care system for possible solutions. We don't bite!

    Governor Cuomo step up and take part in these discussions and possible solutions to Brooklyn's Health Care problems. Come to Brooklyn and see and meet the people of Brooklyn. Two past governors of N.Y.S. went onto become immortal Presidents of the United States. They did that by fighting for the working person, fighting for peoples rights, fighting for people who are unable to speak for themselves. We carved one, his likeness into a mountain, the other we know by his initials. The path to the White House is not be abandoning Brooklyn or delegating Brooklyn's health care problems to others.


    James Hayes

    February 11, 2013 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  13. choya

    The link at the bottom is of a report while dated (2006), the information is still valid. Hospital closures are nothing new but the data in this report gives some indications as to why this hospital in particular may be closing. While occupancy rate is cited the percentage is never given.

    February 10, 2013 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. IBK

    The NY times covers this same story in an article, but there is one inconsistency. NY times reports 50,000 emergency patients per year while CNN reports 29,000 per year. Any clarification? I am writing a paper regarding the closure of this hospital. Here is the link to the NY times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/09/nyregion/suny-board-votes-to-close-long-island-college-hospital.html?_r=0

    February 10, 2013 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
    • skastenbaumcnn

      sorry for the delayed response. I'm the reporter who put this story together. The 29,000 figure is what I was given by hospital administrators. The 50,000 figure may have come from the unions. I'm not sure.

      February 10, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. James J

    ObamaCare is working! They said they would lower health care costs and they did! For those people living in these areas where ObamaCare Costs are closing all the hospitils, those people will save money, as they have no place to spend it on health care! NO health care is the cheapest! Pay your insurance or get fined and GOOD Luck finding a Doctor or Hospital OPEN if you need one! SCORE? Government wins with fines revenue, Insurance Companies win with mandatory customers and no hospitals or doctors available to rack up charges....the BIG LOSER?..go look in the mirror!

    February 9, 2013 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      Your complete lack of clues only amplifies the fact that your entire comment is driven by hatred, which makes it useless.

      February 12, 2013 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • klargar

      How does it feel to wake up im the morning ,look in the mirror and see a huge fecal matter dripping anus instead of a face?

      February 14, 2013 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  16. Den

    Don't be mad at the Cuomo, it's our fault. We allowed a society that sues everyone and places to large a burden on the health care system. People have forgotten that medicine is a practice.

    February 9, 2013 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  17. sardukar

    Its not possible guns to be allowed, banks to be bailed out and to just let the hospital die out...SHAME ON YOU gov Cuomo...close it and you will never be a president.

    February 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • debbie

      He'll never be pres anyway

      February 8, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |