ALBANY, N.Y. December 13, 2006 - Hundreds of members of New York State United Teachers and its largest higher education affiliate, United University Professions, traveled to Albany today to rally at the state Capitol and urged legislators to vote no on a state commission's recommendation to privatize New York's three SUNY hospitals.
"None of this makes any sense," NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said. "Privatizing vital health care services and eliminating physician training and education programs will only make New York's health care problems worse. If the Legislature lets this stand, thousands of New Yorkers will have no health care for their families."
"The mission of the State University hospitals in Brooklyn, Syracuse and Stony Brook is to provide high-quality health care to all - regardless of ability to pay," said UUP President Bill Scheuerman. "But if the hospitals were run by the private sector, their mission would be changed to nurturing a healthy bottom line, not healthy citizens."
UUP represents 32,000 academic and professional faculty at SUNY, including medical educators at the teaching hospitals.
Scheuerman and NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan Lubin urged state lawmakers meeting in a special session today to reject the recommendations of the Berger Commission, saying the privatization could force the SUNY hospitals to close if they do not turn profits. Lubin noted that New Yorkers who are indigent do not have the wherewithal to travel to other facilities for their health care needs. He warned the consequences of privatizing could be dire.
"Millions of New Yorkers have no health insurance," Lubin said. "Privatizing and closing the very hospitals that provide them care could literally be a death sentence for some of these uninsured New Yorkers."
The union leaders also warned that taking the SUNY hospitals out of the public sector would jeopardize SUNY-operated regional trauma centers, AIDS clinics and a burn unit - all vital but costly, specialized services. Scheuerman and Lubin also warned privatization would threaten affordable, high-quality medical education and medical research programs in New York.
"Privatizing the SUNY hospitals would not only put people's lives at risk, it would also jeopardize adequate health care for future generations," Scheuerman said.
"We must keep medical education affordable if we hope to educate the next generation of health care providers, and the way to do that is to keep our outstanding academic medical centers in the public sector where they belong."
Members of PEF, CSEA, NYSNA, CWA and staff of Bellevue Women's Hospital also participated in the rally.
NYSUT represents 575,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.
UUP represents 32,000 academic and professional faculty on 29 New York state-operated campuses, including health care professionals at three SUNY-operated hospitals, and is an affiliate of New York State United Teachers, the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.