Bush To City: Drop Dead
One example of Bush's contempt for New York, and all urban areas, is the latest Medicare bill. Passed by the House last November only after the usual fifteen-minute roll-call period had been stretched to almost three hours to allow GOP leaders to whip several members of their party into line, the bill is especially damaging to New York, where poor people depend on teaching hospitals for care. The law's funding formulas give preferential treatment to rural hospitals and to states with less dense population patterns.
New York State will receive only $480 million from 2004 to 2013, with only $80 million of that going to New York City. In contrast, Texas, home of House majority leader Tom DeLay, will get $1.1 billion, Alabama $738 million, Louisiana $554 million, Tennessee $655 million, North Carolina $576 million and Florida $741 million.
New York City not only has the biggest population in need in the country, and the highest cost of healthcare, but also the most hospitals in economic distress--forty-five. Dozens of cash-starved New York hospitals are now in jeopardy of closing.
One reason for the inequities was that Harlem's Charles Rangel, New York's senior Representative, was excluded from the key House-Senate conference that engaged in the final bargaining. "The conference was run like a private club that would not let me in," Rangel said. Ted Kennedy, the Senate's leading expert on healthcare, was also exiled from the conference. The only two Senate Democrats in the conference were John Breaux of Louisiana and Max Baucus of Montana, both of whom supported Bush on the bill.
Hospital administrators say that New York City should have gotten at least $400 million more if need, cost and population had been fairly taken into account. The bill made a 15 percent cut in payments to teaching hospitals, which are concentrated in New York City. In practice, this is a 15 percent cut in healthcare services for the poor and elderly, who depend on Medicare.
On top of this targeted shot at New York, the Medicare bill also did nothing to lower the cost of prescription drugs, made it harder for citizens to purchase American-made drugs at lower prices in Canada, included a drug benefit that does not cover the middle class and postponed implementation of the new prescription drug program until 2006.