Indigent Care in New York State

The Story

Hospitals routinely provide healthcare for poor people. New York State’s “Indigent Care Pool” (ICP) program partially reimburses hospitals for the cost of treating uninsured patients who cannot afford to pay for their care. The way that the money is allocated makes little sense, though: some safety-net hospitals get shortchanged, while affluent facilities get far too much money for the minimal indigent care that they provide.

The Facts You Need to Know

  1. Richer: Some famous, well-endowed hospitals, such as Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan, receive millions of dollars in “indigent care” grants, despite sustaining no net loss in providing such services. Read more.

  2. Poorer: Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn provides more than $100 million in direct care to the poor and uninsured but collects just pennies on the dollar from the ICP. Read more.

  3. Hidden: New York funds the ICP through the Health Care Reform Act, a hidden surcharge on health insurance that is assessed inequitably. Read more.

“Why Albany spends the Indigent Care Pool money so carelessly is another question. Some observers think the formula is cynically designed to subsidize the big, powerful hospitals that have outsized lobbying clout.”

Bill Hammond, Empire Center Director of Health Policy

Twitter Take

The Past is Present

“Emergency health care functions as a conspicuous exception to the general principle of market exchange, whereby services are voluntarily bought and sold.”

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