Bill would set up an office to audit NYC workers’ healthcare costs and find savings

A councilwoman introduced legislation on Wednesday that she hopes will help regulate skyrocketing hospital bill prices by establishing a new bureau for healthcare accountability.

Julie Menin (D-Upper East Side) hopes the new office will be able to find up to $2 billion in savings by scrutinizing how much city workers pay for their healthcare at different hospitals, and There are recommendations for lowering prices.

She says hospitals aren’t transparent about how much procedures cost, and that’s driving prices up.

“We are in the midst of one of the most difficult budget crises the city has seen in a number of years. We need to find savings. We have a situation where 10% of the city budget is spent on employee healthcare costs. We are running into a black hole of negotiations,” she said on Wednesday.

The new bill comes after a report by 32BJ’s health fund, which found earlier this year that the city could be overpaying $2 billion annually. It also highlighted a number of discrepancies between the costs of procedures performed by private and public hospitals.

At an NYC Health + Hospitals facility, an inpatient cesarean cost about $17,861, while the price rose to just over $55,077 at the private hospital Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

Councilwoman Julie Menin spoke at a rally outside City Hall on December 7, 2022 in favor of a bill she introduced that would create an office for public health accountability.
Councilwoman Julie Menin spoke at a rally outside City Hall on December 7, 2022 in favor of a bill she introduced that would create an office for public health accountability.
Andrew Kelly/AP Images for Power to the Patients

As well as examining healthcare costs for city workers, the legislation – backed by service union 32BJ and the United Federation of Teachers – would also create a portal to track information on the cost of hospital care.

“It is unscrupulous for hospitals not to make this available to the general public. It will really help people with their medical debt to get the information,” Menin said.

When asked how much the new unit would cost the city — which is already facing a $2.9 billion budget gap this year that has prompted cost-cutting measures — Menin didn’t provide exact numbers, but defended her proposal.

“The potential to save $2 billion far exceeds any de minimis costs involved in setting up this office. When the mayor establishes the office, it can be within an existing agency or office.”

Actress Susan Sarandon speaks at the rally.
Actress Susan Sarandon speaks at the rally.
Andrew Kelly/AP Images for Power to the Patients
Menin said the bureau could save the city up to $2 billion by auditing how much city workers pay for health care.
Menin said the bureau could save the city up to $2 billion by auditing how much city workers pay for health care.
Andrew Kelly/AP Images for Power to the Patients

But a representative for the Greater New York Hospital Association, a trade association that represents over 160 hospitals and health systems in the state, told The Post the bill was “double and even triple.”

“This law places another unnecessary burden on the hospitals that sacrificed themselves for all New Yorkers during the pandemic — and are now battling the convergence of flu, RSV and COVID-19,” GNYHA spokesman Brian Conway said in a statement adding that those hospitals are now under further stress thanks to Adams’ new involuntary program to take the mentally ill off the streets and into hospitals for psychiatric evaluations.

“The bill doubles and even triples existing requirements that hold New York hospitals accountable. For example, they already comply with federal laws by posting both their prices and consumer-friendly calculators online to help individuals estimate their costs. Additionally, both the City Comptroller and the State Comptroller already have broad mandates to audit what the city spends on employee health care.”

A representative for State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and City Comptroller Brad Lander did not respond to an immediate request for comment from The Post.

https://nypost.com/2022/12/07/bill-would-create-office-to-audit-nyc-worker-health-costs-and-finding-savings/ Bill would set up an office to audit NYC workers’ healthcare costs and find savings

JACLYN DIAZ

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