Family Values @ Work


April 6, 2012

Study Shows Paid Sick Days Law Would Save $40 Million in Healthcare Costs Annually

NEW YORK – Today at Bellevue Hospital, America’s oldest public hospital, a group of doctors and nurses joined with City Councilmembers to announce a new reason to support paid sick days for New York City workers: it saves money for the City.

Nearly $40 million from emergency room services, including $28.4 million for taxpayer funded health insurance programs, would be saved if New Yorkers had access to paid sick days, according to a new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

While Mayor Bloomberg has proposed $7 million in cuts to HHC (Health and Hospitals Corporation) in his 2012 budget, the group cited the study, which shows the City of New York would save $5 million annually in Medicaid expenditures, to argue that paid sick days is a smarter way to save money, and also keep people healthier.

“As this report shows, when people are using the emergency room instead of a doctor’s office, it leads to worse health outcomes and it costs the patient and the city more money,” said Councilmember Gale Brewer. “Paid sick time is the kind of smart, healthy money saver that New York City needs.”

“Instead of cutting the budget for HHC, we can save money by keeping New Yorkers healthier. The bottom line is, paid sick days is a money saver for our New York City,” said Councilmember Rosie Mendez.

Barbara Gault, Vice President of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, explained the savings. “Workers without paid sick days are less likely to get the kind of preventive medical care that keeps people healthier and lowers costs, and more likely to end up in emergency rooms, getting the most costly kind of care,” said Gault.

Key findings from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s study include:

  • Access to paid sick days would prevent 48,000 New York City emergency room visits annually
  • This reduced emergency room use would save $39.5 million in health care costs, including $28.4 million in savings for taxpayer funded health insurance programs.
  • The City of New York would save $5 million annually in Medicaid expenditures.

Advocates at the event are calling on City Council to pass the Paid Sick Time bill (Int 0097-2012), which would ensure that 1.5 million New Yorkers without access to paid sick days are able to take time off when they or their families are ill.  In addition to the support from the healthcare community, the bill has 35 Council sponsors and is supported by a diverse coalition of labor unions, women’s rights organizations, small businesses and community organizations.

Doctors and nurses shared their experiences treating patients who ended up in the emergency room after forgoing routine care because they couldn’t get time off work.

Dr. Michelle Lin, an emergency room doctor at Bellevue shared a story about a young patient rushed into the emergency room and admitted into the intensive care unit with a life-threatening asthma attack. “Her mother had been unable to skip work for a routine pediatrician’s appointment.  A simple intervention could have prevented her daughter’s devastating attack,” Lin said. Lin is a member of the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare.

“Every day I treat people who I wish had gotten a check-up earlier, and might have prevented an emergency room visit, said Anne Bove, a nurse at Bellevue and a Director at the New York State Nurses Association. “A bad cough can turn into pneumonia or chronic bronchitis if it’s not taken care of. An early stage tumor can be detected and removed – or it can grow, metastasize and require major surgery.”

“New Yorkers without paid sick leave should not have to choose between their job and their health, and businesses are not doing themselves any favors by putting workers in this difficult position,” said Councilmember Dan Garodnick.  “Paid sick leave will help keep New Yorkers healthy and cut down on health care costs.”

The NYC Paid Sick Days Campaign is a coalition of low wage workers, women’s, children’s and senior citizens’ advocates, healthcare providers, public health organizations, small business owners, labor unions and community organizations who believe New York cannot afford to wait for paid sick days. Paid sick days is a commonsense policy for our city and our economy that protects family economy security and public health.