Yesterday’s Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s Board of Directors addressed one of the more recent issues becoming yet another wart on the face of Buffalo: The Berger Commission’s mandate to merge Kaleida Health and ECMC into a single entity. The board voted – unanimously, with a few abstentions – to request that the New York State Health Commissioner and State Legislature do whatever is within their authority to implement the Berger Commission plans by the June 30th, 2008 deadline. That would include that a joint commission comprising Kaleida, ECMC and independent officials (currently called Newco) to take management reins, and that the ECMC Public Benefit Corporation be dissolved.
As of today, ECMC has not come back to the table to discuss merger plans. The June 30th date is important because prior to that date there is both state and federal money available to assist in the consolidation effort. After June 30th, all legislative bets are off, and Buffalo may be forced to go it alone.
The request to the BNP Board was spearheaded by Independent Health (Michael Cropp), Health Now (Alphonso O’Neil-White) and Univera (Mary Lee Campbell-Wisley). Their request was more of a plea to demonstrate leadership and a unified front at a time when health care costs are skyrocketing. Their belief was that consolidation and build up of the downtown medical campus establishes the critical mass needed to provide quality care at lower cost. The discussion at the BNP was rather prolonged but eventually the Board decided to back the three HMOs. Expect a full-page spread in an upcoming Buffalo News in the form of a letter to the Health Commissioner.
I found it unfortunate that what was voted on was essentially a request to persons outside of Western New York to make a decision that, as a community, we could not make ourselves.