Speaking Out Against Unfair Hospital Costs

Story and Photo by MIKE LEE
DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido joined other union leaders and health care advocates at City Hall Park to demand action on exorbitant hospital prices and the financial stranglehold the five private hospital systems have on health care in New York City.

The April 25 rally, organized by the Coalition for Affordable Hospitals, is the latest in a campaign by the city’s unions to demand that New York City and the state legislature step in to save taxpayer dollars and use the savings to fund the public services that New Yorkers need in these times of economic distress.

Currently, New York City is overcharged $2.393 billion in hospital costs by private hospitals. By taking action to push back against these overcharges, the money saved could be spent instead on the city’s public schools, social services, housing, and community support.

This also will alleviate the pressure on union health plans, such as DC 37’s Health & Security Fund.

“Our municipal workers kept our city running throughout the pandemic, providing the vital services New Yorkers depend on. Now we need to stand up for those workers and their families. We need to stop protecting these private hospital CEOs who are taking billions of dollars,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.

New York City Council member Julie Menin who represents the 5th District in Manhattan, was among many at the rally speaking out against the egregious practice of private hospitals overcharging for health services.

“As a mom, I say this: if you are giving birth in a hospital in New York City, you could be charged anywhere from $15,000 to $55,000. This is inexcusable. These hospitals sometimes charge up to 300% of Medicare rates,” Menin said.
Menin was a co-sponsor of City Council resolution backing the HEAL Act, introduced in the New York Senate by Senator Andrew Gounardes, Chair of the State Senate Budget and Revenue Committee, and Assembly Member Catalina Cruz. The Act passed the state Senate on June 1, and the Assembly on June 3. As PEP talk went to press, the HEAL Act awaits Governor Hochul’s signature.

The HEAL Act, the Hospital Equity and Affordability Law, will bar hospital networks from striking contracting deals with insurers that lead to rising health care costs, which is a central demand by the Coalition for Affordable Hospitals and the city’s unions.

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