From District Leader Jo Anne Simon: Saving LICH, Steve Levin, and the Brooklyn Democratic Party
I recently highlighted Yetta Kurland's City Council run and the issues (in Manhattan) related to the closing of hospitals without clear understanding of the real dynamics of healthcare in the US. Well my friend Jo Anne Simon, a Democratic Party District Leader in Brooklyn, is addressing similar issues in Brooklyn.
Here is what I said about the Manhattan situation:
...let's remember that closing of St. Vincent's coupled with the closing of NYU's Tisch Hospital, Bellevue Hospital and the VA hospital meant that emergency room coverage was critically low in Manhattan for some time after Sandy. In fact the NYU Medical Center's emergency room remains down today, though I believe their Urgent Care center is now open.
Sadly few people have been championing keeping hospitals open. The dynamic is a complex one. Hospitals almost all run at a loss. This is not because of mismanagement usually but because the cost of care in emergency rooms and ICUs is so hugely expensive that it tends to lose money at a huge rate...in order to save lives. The more people who don't have health insurance, the more people who have to depend on emergency rooms for basic care...and the more money it costs the hospitals. Reduce the number of uninsured people and spread emergency visits over more hospitals and the burden on each hospital is reduced. But leave lots of uninsured and close hospitals and each remaining hospital gets an even higher burden on their emergency rooms...driving them deeper into a financial hole.
Closing St. Vincent's just increased the burden on every other hospital. Of course Healthcare reform is a key way to improve the financial strength of our hospitals, but closing hospitals really isn't. Yetta Kurland gets that.
Well similar ill conceived crap is going on in Brooklyn as well and Jo Anne Simon is on top of it. From a recent email she sent:
Last week, NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued a report showing that SUNY Downstate Medical Center and Long Island College Hospital were teetering on the brink and that closing LICH has been discussed by its board.
Tomorrow, January 25th at 11 AM, join federal, state and local elected officials in the little park across the street from LICH (339 Hicks Street) for a rally to call attention to this situation and call upon the state and the hospital to find a way to retain medical services at LICH, an all important teaching hospital in an area with an increasing number of families needing its services!
Again, let me emphasize that the closing of these hospitals is largely due specifically to the costs they bear taking care of uninsured Americans, and each hospital that closes increases the burden on EVERY OTHER HOSPITAL in the area because all those uninsured Americans will have to now either die or go to the next nearest hospital. Thanks to Yetta Kurland and Jo Anne Simon for realizing the importance of this issue. People who try to just apply some imagined "business model" seem to ignore the larger dynamics. Single payer could solve a LOT of this. But until then, we have to protect our hospitals from closing because when hospitals close, people die AND other hospitals have to take on the expensive burden of caring for the uninsured. WE ARE NOT DEALING WITH THIS, and these closings really will mean the difference between life and death for New Yorkers who have to be rushed to the hospital. This is a key reason to support both Yetta Kurland and Jo Anne Simon. It is an issue we all can ignore until we are in an ambulance and the closest hospital is further than we can survive. THAT is becoming the situation. We can fight it or accept it and pray (not my strong point) that we never end up in that ambulance.
And by the way, Bloomberg's closing of firehouses creates the same problem if you have a fire in your building or a neighboring building. Right now you are less likely to have your home survive a fire thanks to the closing of firehouses. When we cut back on teachers, nurses, firehouses and hospitals, EVERYONE gets fucked. Sadly, not too many people are talking about this. Jo Anne Simon IS talking about it and Yetta Kurland is making it the focus of her run for City Council. More power to both of them.
More from Jo Anne Simon...
This year will be a pivotal one for Brooklyn Democrats. With Vito Lopez out as party leader we have a new opportunity for Brooklyn to be not just the largest Democratic organization in the country, but also the most progressive.
As a Democratic District Leader, and now also as 1st vice-chair of the Kings County Democratic County Committee and co-chair of the Rules Committee, I’m focusing on reforming the party rules and bringing about the changes that are sorely needed.
This year will also see elections for Mayor, city council and other municipal offices. Make no mistake about it, these  elections are as important as the national elections last November . Many friends and supporters have asked me if will be a candidate for city council. It’s a question I’ve spent much time considering. I am grateful to my family, friends and supporters who have encouraged me to be a candidate.
It’s no secret that I feel the 33rd Council District deserves independent representation. Once the lines are finalized I am confident we can find the best candidate for this newly redrawn seat. But I will not be among those seeking the nomination for City Council. Instead I will continue concentrating my time on making the promise of reforms a reality in Brooklyn politics.
Reformers within the Democratic Party have been fighting (and, unfortunately, INFIGHTING) for years now to try and get the Brooklyn Democratic Party more transparent, honest, and progressive. Jo Anne Simon has not been the most vocal of reformers but she has been among the most consistent reformers and we need to have her back. Jo Anne Simon would make a good City Council Candidate. That said, she would have a hard time winning. The person I think will be the most progressive candidate and the one least weighed down by the baggage of Vito Lopez is Lincoln Restler. That said, our current, VERY MUCH Vito Lopez connected councilman (Steve Levin) has been trying hard to be a good councilman. His main and possibly fatal flaw is he refuses to even discuss the corruption and sexual harassment perpetrated by his former boss and mentor, Vito Lopez. As of now, Steve Levin is SOLIDLY connected with the old, thrown out, corrupt and anti-woman Brooklyn machine. I think he is better than his past, but if he is unwilling to condemn the corruption and crimes of his former mentor, he has to accept the baggage that entails. For now Steve Levin remains part of the old, disgraced, corrupt and anti-woman Vito Lopez machine. Lincoln Restler looks to be a much better replacement. So fare Levin has done NOTHING to distance himself from the corruption and sexual harassment of Vito Lopez.
So I go one step further than Jo Anne Simon. I outright reject Steve Levin who has to date refused to reject the corruption and sexual harassment of Vito Lopez. I once felt he had the chance to LEAD the movement against Lopez and clean up Brooklyn perhaps even by going public with what he saw when Chief of Staff for Vitio Lopez when Lopez was at his most corrupt. Levin could have stood up against Vito's corruption. Instead he has refused to take any solid stand against Vito's corruption or sexual harassment. To me this condemns Levin, if not as an outright collaborator (which I hope isn't true), then at least as someone without the guts to stand up to some of America's worst corruption and out right abuse of women. Jo Anne Simon is too polite to say all this, but that is the back story to her statement above. And if Steve Levin can't even condemn the sexual harassment of Vito Lopez, then Lincoln Restler has a real shot at unseating Levin. Message to Levin (and this should be blatantly obvious): Sexual Harassment DOES NOT PLAY WELL in NYC. You should know that.