State lawmakers and a major labor union on Sunday unveiled a bill meant to stem concerns surrounding hospital contracting practices they argue are leading to higher health care price structures for patients.
The bill, backed by 32BJ SEIU, Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, comes as the 32BJ Health Fund announced New York-Presbyterian would go out of network for the 100,000 or so members who receive coverage through the union.
The move would raise the cost of standard procedures like bariatric surgery or colonoscopies, making it far more than expensive than other New York area hospitals.
The proposed legislation known as the Hospital Equity and Affordability Law would bar hospital networks from striking similar contracting deals with insurers that have the effect of raising health care costs.
“No longer can we stand back and abide by hospital administrators who meet behind closed doors to lock in increasingly unaffordable prices without any explanation as to why,” said Kyle Bragg, 32BJ SEIU president and 32BJ Health Fund chair. “We’re fighting on behalf of the millions of New Yorkers who deserve affordable and transparent access to health care. "HEAL is just the first step of a battle from which we will not back down until truly equitable and sane hospital prices are the standard, not the exception to the rule.”
The proposal is also coming amid a rise in hospital consolidations across the state, especially in large metro areas of New York.
Many of the workers affected were frontline employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, labor leaders noted. The public workers union DC37 is also supportive of the bill.
“Sadly, this issue is not unique to our organizations," said Jeremy John, the director of politician action at DC37. "The truth is that the higher the cost of health care rises, the less money there is available to pay for vital city services. This is something every city resident should care about and join forces with us to combat.”