Friday, August 23, 2013

Stephen Berger : From Gov. Hugh Carey to Gov. Andrew Cuomo : Relentlessly Attacking Hospitals and Healthcare

Who is Stephen Berger ? Medicaid Redesign Team Hatchetman photo Stephen-Berger_zpsbf8b7980.png

From Chapter 8 of Roots of Betrayal : The Ethics of Christine Quinn

Of all people, why was Mr. Berger selected by Gov. Pataki to lead a commission charged with closing New York hospitals ? During the aftermath of the 1970’s fiscal crisis that gripped New York City, Mr. Berger served as the executive director of the New York State Emergency Financial Control Board for the city. To carry out the severe austerity cuts demanded by Wall Street bankers and big business interests, Mr. Berger, among other actions, slashed the subsidies that New York City paid to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. One consequence of Mr. Berger’s cuts to the MTA has been the dramatic and relentless increases in subway and bus fares endured by users of the city’s mass transit system. A calculating political insider, Mr. Berger had also served as the executive director of the Port Authority ; as chairman of a private equity firm, Odyssey Investment Partners, LLC ; and as a political campaign consultant for each of Senate candidate Richard Ottinger, Representative Jonathan Bingham, and Representative and one-time Republican mayoral candidate Herman Badillo. During Mr. Berger’s supervision of the city’s budget during the financial crisis of the 1970’s, he was accused of trying to “destroy” the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs the city’s public hospitals. His management style was alternatively described as “sarcastic, plaintive, caustic, philosophical and hortatory.” Since Mr. Berger had proven himself under Gov. Hugh Carey to be predisposed to be a “hatchetman” for hire, Mr. Berger could be counted on to carry out ruthless budget cuts with a sense of moral and ethical impunity. Therefore, he was a natural pick for Gov. Pataki to lead the charge to indiscriminately close down hospitals. Mr. Berger was comfortable reviving the role of the bad cop to Gov. Pataki’s good cop in the 2000’s, an arrangement he had successfully played opposite Gov. Carey during the 1970’s fiscal crisis.

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