Billions for health care construction tucked in Hochul’s budget | Business Local

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. 

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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.