Gov. Kathy Hochul visited Erie County Medical Center on Dec. 22, 2021, to provide an update on Covid-19. Billions for health care capital projects are within her proposed budget.
With the recent release of thousands of pages of state budget documents – not exactly light reading – details of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s $10 billion plan to remake the state’s ailing health care system are becoming clearer.
Well, marginally clearer.
One big takeaway: Her budget proposes making $1.6 billion available to fund capital improvements for health care facilities and nursing homes, as well as to build out ambulatory care infrastructure for struggling hospitals.
The News’ Buffalo Next team covers the changing Buffalo Niagara economy. Get the news in your inbox 5 days a week.
That additional funding would be on top of the $3.8 billion the state has appropriated since 2014, which would bring the total capital investment for health care providers to $5.4 billion through fiscal year 2028.
Some are questioning whether the additional funds are warranted. For instance, of the $3.8 billion allocated to health care capital grants over the last eight years, $2.1 billion has not been spent, according to Bill Hammond, senior fellow for health policy at the Empire Center for Public Policy, a fiscally conservative think tank in Albany.
Perhaps the most noteworthy spending announcement for those funds came in March 2016, when the state doled out $1.5 billion for 162 projects statewide. That included about $156 million for Western New York, including $57 million to support Brooks-TLC Hospital System’s affiliation with Kaleida Health, nearly $28 million to Catholic Health for information technology improvements and $20 million to the then-under construction John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital.