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Cooper Calls Levy’s Refusal to Sign Healthcare Legislation Irresponsible

Levy & Cooper

Jon Cooper, Suffolk County Legislator, released the following:

With Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy calling for dramatic cuts in County funding for two of Suffolk County’s health centers (the Dolan Family Health Center in Huntington and the Elsie Owens North Brookhaven Family Health Center in Coram), County lawmakers are scrambling to figure out how to keep the doors open at these facilities in the face of massive cutbacks and claw backs in State aid.  If these cuts weren’t bad enough, the Legislature is now forced to hold independent hearings because the County Executive is refusing to sign a law authored by Legislative Majority Leader Jon Cooper (D-Lloyd Harbor) that created a joint committee to make recommendations on how to bridge the estimated $20 million chasm in the County’s public health care budget.

Legislator Kate Browning (WF-Shirley), chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, has scheduled a hearing with State officials this coming Wednesday, May 11th at the William H. Rogers Legislature Building in Hauppauge at 3 pm. This comes less than a week after Browning devoted four hours of her committee’s last meeting (May 5th) to solicit public and professional testimony on the impact of these looming cuts and the closure of these facilities.

“This is a humanitarian issue,” says Browning. “That’s why the County Executive should be signing Legislator Cooper’s bill. Because if we allow these cuts to go through, we are going to hurt the working poor. The committee is not only needed to deal with the State cuts for the rest of this year but they will be needed for the upcoming years.”

The same day as Browning’s meeting last week, Newsday’s Joye Brown quoted County Executive spokesman Dan Aug in her column  (“Suffolk’s Policy Not Healthy”) as saying that the Levy administration had tried in vain to get County legislators to sit down to discuss how to handle the State health care funding cutbacks and claw backs.  “Nobody wants to be here, but somebody has to make the tough decisions,” Aug said.

Cooper scoffs at the post mortem posturing that Team Levy still insists upon perpetuating. “As Dan Aug well knows, this is a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts,” says Cooper.

The reality is that when County Executive Levy first introduced his own bill to create a joint executive/legislative committee to determine how to deal with the massive loss of State funds, Cooper strongly supported Levy’s measure.  Cooper’s only suggestion was to include the County Legislature even more in the process by adding two additional legislative representatives to the joint committee (the Majority Leader and the Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee).   But one of the many ongoing problems that Cooper and his legislative colleagues have faced when dealing with the County Executive is his penchant for unilateral policy making and subsequent finger pointing.     “I believe in a strong and independent executive branch.  However, I also believe there should be co-equal branches of government where lawmakers come together, confer and govern by consensus,” says Cooper. “Unfortunately, Levy’s Kafkaesque modus operandi most often is to act on his own without conferring with the Legislature and then criticize us for not taking any action in the first place.”   This time, when the County Executive refused to amend his bill and allow the Legislature to play a coequal role in the tough decisions this committee would be forced to recommend, Cooper filed his own resolution.  The fact that Cooper’s measure was approved 17-1 at the legislative meeting on April 26th shows just how exasperated Cooper’s colleagues are with Levy’s counterproductive antics.   Now, in a final act of spite, Levy is refusing to sign Cooper’s bill into law in an effort to prevent the joint committee from meeting.  This, in turn, is making it impossible for the yet-to-be-formed committee to submit recommendations by the June 15th deadline specified in Cooper’s resolution.     “The County Executive has an easy decision to make—sign my bill and let us all work together to deal with our looming health care crisis,” says an exasperated Cooper. “The only thing stopping us at this point is one small signature and one massive ego.”

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5 comments to Cooper Calls Levy’s Refusal to Sign Healthcare Legislation Irresponsible

  • Standing up for Huntington

    Levy should sign Cooper’s bill immediately and allow the joint committee to meet and come up with their recommendations. Levy’s proposed cuts to the Dolan Center would be devastating and we should be exploring every possible way to keet their doors open.

    Dolan treats over 9,000 patients (both uninsured and underinsured) every year and the loss of the health care services they provide would put a terrible strain on the resources of Huntington Hospital.

    It’s a shame that Levy is being so petty in refusing to sign Cooper’s bill into law.

    • Save the Dolan Center

      I agree with you 100%. I hope that Levy comes to his senses and signs this bill. If the Dolan Family Health Center were to close (or drastically reduce their operations) it would hurt thousands of Huntington residents. Hopefully the joint committee can come up with some new ideas to avoid this dire scenario.

  • Why is Levy still here?

    Why is Steve Levy still weighing in on issues like this? After his pay-to-play scandal, he’s got no credibility left with the public and no respect left with his fellow elected officials. Levy should just resign already and do us all a favor.

  • Taxed Out

    Yeah right where will all the illegal aliens go to get their healthcare now ?

    • Shame on Levy

      Levy wants to keep most of the county health centers open – just not Dolan and Coram. Huntington residents pay taxes just like everyone else and we should get the same services from the county. Levy’s plan to cut all county funding to Dolan is totally unfair. Shame on him.

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