Suffolk County Will Achieve Over $150 Million in Taxpayer Savings From Shifting Operations to Private Sector
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced a five-year agreement with Hudson River Healthcare, Inc. (“HRHCare”) to continue operation of eight health centers across Suffolk County. Beginning in 2019, the County will contribute $12 million per year towards the cost of the agreement.
Since 2012, the County has saved $62 million by shifting health center operations to the private sector and HRHCare has invested $20 million in capital improvements over the past five years into the health centers. The continued taxpayer savings over the next five years is projected at an additional $93 million to the County, bringing total taxpayer savings to over $150 million.
“The agreement continues the significant savings to taxpayers we have already achieved by reducing the cost to the County while maintaining expanded access to health services,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone. “This is another significant step forward in our efforts to makecounty government more efficient and less costly, and I thank HRHCare for working with the Countyto ensure all communities have access to quality health care.”
Anne Kauffman Nolon, CEO of Hudson River Healthcare said: “Hudson River Healthcare is pleased to have come to an agreement with County Executive Steve Bellone to continue our critical health care partnership with Suffolk County. This new five-year deal enables us to maintain the high level of quality health care services we’ve been providing to more than 80,000 Suffolk residents each year while continuing to save taxpayer dollars. Moreover, it will provide crucial stability to Suffolk’s health system and the individuals and families who depend on it. We would like to thank County Executive Bellone for his commitment to this partnership and the numerous community leaders who supported this process including members of the business community, health executives, and dozens of local, county and other important elected officials.”
Highlights of Agreement
Expanding Hours of Operation
HRHCare has expanded the hours of operation of each of the health centers. Overall, HRHCare is open 124 more hours weekly when compared to previous Suffolk County Department of Health Services (“SCDHS”) operations.
- Dental Services
- HRHCare has opened dental suites at the following health centers: Riverhead; Coram; Southampton; Tri-Community; and Brentwood. These services are available to the community. Previously under SCDHS operations, dental was only available at Riverhead and Brentwood and only to HIV positive patients.
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
- MAT is the use of FDA-approved medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorder. HRHCare treats patients with opioid use disorder with buprenorphine at the following health centers: Brentwood, Shirley, and MLK Wyandanch. Services will be expanded to the Riverhead Health Center in the next few months. Such services were not available under the previous SCDHS operation.
- Urgent Care
- HRHCare has urgent care services at the Coram Health Center and plans to expand such services to Brentwood; Patchogue; and MLK Wyandanch. SCDHS did not previously offer such services.
- Behavioral Health Services
- HRHCare has counseling services available to patients. For those patients who may have may need a higher level of care, they are referred to partnering Article 31 Mental Health Clinics. When SCDHS maintained operations, the Department had minimal counseling services available, and most was geared toward HIV positive patients.
The agreement ensures all health centers receive some level of a “make-over” services, such as painting, updates to flooring, new furniture and new equipment. Fully functioning EMRs with patient portals and Hellow phone app for patients to access their medical information are also to be provided. While the pre-existing government health centers accepted only HealthFirst insurance plan, HRHCare will accept additional insurance plans – all Medicaid Managed Care plans in Suffolk County as well as private insurance plans.
Continuation of Public Health Programs
HRHCare partners with SCDHS to test and treat residents for STDs and tuberculosis and works closely with our Immunization Action Program (IAP) to ensure immunizations are available to children in Suffolk County.
The recent partnership will allow residents who have a potential exposure to rabies to receive follow-up post exposure prophylaxis at health centers rather than emergency department for second, third and fourth doses. While HRHCare will be reimbursed for this service, it is a cost savings to the County taking the follow-up out of emergency departments and enables the County to pay for the medication at the discounted rate through the Federal 340B program.