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Proposed LICH Act will allow community input before hospital closures

After the frustrating and ultimately unsuccessful struggle to save Cobble Hill’s Long Island College Hospital as a full-service hospital, State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon are one step closer to getting their Local Input in Community Healthcare (LICH) Act off the ground.

The bill, in the works since the proposed closure of LICH two years ago, passed the Senate Health Committee in a bipartisan vote on Wednesday, April 22 and will now be put in front of the Senate Finance Committee.

“It’s encouraging that the Senate Health Committee has supported community input and transparency with today’s bipartisan vote — no community should experience the chaos that LICH’s closure caused,” said Squadron. “This bill would ensure that a community’s healthcare needs and the viability of the institution are core questions when hospitals are threatened. I will continue pushing this bill with Assemblymember Simon, and I look forward to working toward its passage in the Finance Committee.”

Throughout court proceedings following the proposed closure of the hospital — which would eventually be purchased by Fortis Property Group and New York University to become NYU Langone-Cobble Hill, providing emergency room and urgent care, as well as some other medical services as part of a combination residential/healthcare campus — there was no clear process used to determine the impact the closure would have on the surrounding community or Brooklyn, according to documents from the senator’s office.

Currently, the law only requires that a community forum be held after a hospital has already closed.

The LICH Act would allow the commissioner of the State Department of Health (DOH) to approve a hospital closure application only if the community’s needs, and the needs of impacted stakeholders – including access to emergency medical care – can be sufficiently met.

Additionally, the commissioner would not be allowed to close a hospital without thorough input from the community, according to Squadron’s office.

“Thanks to Senator Squadron’s advocacy, the Senate Health Committee‎ has recognized what we have known for some time,” said Simon, “that New Yorkers need the LICH Act so that communities are notified in advance of proposed hospital closures, and the communities’ health needs are assessed and addressed before a closure can take place.”

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