NY Health Care Workers Struggle

April 11, 2003

On April 1, 37,000 health care workers (members of the 1199 Service Employees International Union) rallied in Albany, New York to protest Republican Governor Pataki's plan to slash $2 billion in state funding for health care.

The proposed cuts would come from Medicaid reimbursement rates, state aid to local health departments and other public health programs. As a result many hospitals, especially "safety net" hospitals which serve a high percentage of poor patients and teaching hospitals, would be forced to close while others will drastically cut back on services. In addition, such vital public health services as cancer screenings, home health care, immunization programs, etc. will be curtailed. Dr. Lloyd Novic, President of the State Association of County Health Officials, said that New York "will not have a workable public health system if this budget goes through." Nursing homes and the home care industry would also be hard hit. The jobs of more than 20,000 health care workers are at risk.

Not only in New York, but all across the country, state governments are slashing health care funding as well as other human services, including public education and income-support programs for the poor and most vulnerable. Public employees are facing mass layoffs, wage cuts and other attacks on their livelihood.

By fighting against these cutbacks, New York's health care workers -- like other public employees across the country -- are not only defending their livelihoods but taking the lead in defending vital public services. All the working people must support such struggles and work to give them a generalized, political character -- that is, work to bring all the workers out to demand an end to attacks on the public sector and to demand that the government make all the investments needed to guarantee the economic and human rights of the people.