TESTIMONY OF STATE SENATOR LIZ KRUEGER
BEFORE THE CAPITAL ASSET REALIGNMENT FOR ENHANCED SERVICES (CARES) LOCAL ADVISORY PLAN
REGARDING PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS OPTIONS FOR
September 19, 2005
Good afternoon. I would like to thank Dr. Van Dun and members of the Local Advisory Panel for facilitating the presentation to the public of options developed by PriceWaterhouseCoopers for CARES and for holding this public meeting.
I represent the 26th Senate District, which
represents Midtown, East Midtown, and the
In projecting forward the demands upon our VA health care
system, we need to recognize that since the Vietnam War, service men and
woman are dying in smaller numbers, but larger numbers are suffering
life-changing injuries. In this century, it is estimated that for every one
soldier killed, ten are injured; quality services for these veterans must be
maintained in accessible sites. Recent statistics show that 2,000 veterans
from the Afghan and Iraq Wars have registered with the VA New York Harbor
Healthcare System to date. The
Unfortunately, we have all become increasingly aware of
the inadequate responses made by government in the horror of the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina. Although, human effort cannot stop a hurricane, human
effort can be utilized for planning and emergency aid efforts. It would be a
grave error to dismantle a superior delivery system at a time when we need to
bolster the ability of our first responders. The VA New York Harbor Health System
is just such a superior service delivery system and major presence in a city
of 8 1/2 million men, women and children and cannot be overlooked and
eviscerated at a time when we must be prepared for natural disasters and the
potential of unexpected catastrophes thrust on us by terrorists. The upheaval
of Katrina is before us everyday and if any lessons are learned, they must
include utilizing available, dependable and tested medical resources such as
the VA system in
Below, I will address several technical concerns with the findings of this report:
First, l wish to state for the record that the two VA hospitals in Manhattan and Brooklyn have already merged into the “VA New York Harbor Healthcare System” (effective 1998) and have successfully addressed many of the issues of access, quality of care and cost being discussed nationally. The report being commented upon today seems not to have recognized this fact.
Second, as I reviewed the nine different BPO options presented in this report, I was struck by the conclusions in the “Assessment Summary.” This summary concluded that despite the many varying scenarios presented, none would result in any significant differences in Healthcare Access, Healthcare Quality or Impact on the VA and Local communities. I found this conclusion highly suspect and it caused me to question the legitimacy of this entire report. Nine separate options, some involving the closing of complete hospital campuses, yet there would be no significant impact on access to or quality of care? Who believes this?
To take just the examples raised in BPOs #2 and #9 that vacate the Manhattan VAMC campus completely, the report suggest there would be no negative impact on accessibility of health care despite the fact that the Manhattan location is far easier to access citywide via public transportation than the Brooklyn site and is coordinated with other hospitals and medical specialists clustered in the immediate geographic vicinity. The assessment completely ignores these realities despite previous testimony by others and myself at the last LAP hearings in May of this year.
Sadly, my conclusion is that the consideration of
financial revenue generation from the sale of
Given the current value of real-estate in
In reviewing BPOs #1 #6 and #7, I favor #1 since it allows a well functioning system to continue as is. As Mothers throughout the generations have taught their children: “if it’s not broke (sic), don’t fix it.”
The merits of proposals #6 and #7 rest in the continuation
of cooperation that would be maintained between the Manhattan and Brooklyn
sites with NYU and SUNY respectively and the consequent support given to the
Centers for Excellence. The availability of public transportation to reach
This is a time for expanded research, better access, and improved quality. That’s how I want to support our troops. We have an obligation to rally around the men and woman who have and will continue to serve our country not just when they are overseas, but also after they come home and must continue to deal with life altering injuries. We cannot allow the shortchanging of the vulnerable and the deserving – they were there for us.