Politically involved New York physician group got $29M in 'distressed' provider funds

Somos Community Care, a physician network in Kingsbridge, N.Y., received $29 million from state funds reserved for distressed hospitals and nursing homes, according to a report released March 18 by think tank Empire Center for Public Policy. 

The 2,500-physician group received the funds in 2022 from the Medicaid Vital Access Provider Assurance Program, according to state Department of Health records obtained by the Empire Center. The program originally was reserved for financially unstable hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 

Expansions to the program, brought about in Gov. Kathy Hochul's 2023 budget, may have allowed the physician group to uniquely benefit. According to the Empire Center, an internal summary of the program's funding in the budget shows $29 million allocated for Somos. Somos IRS filings show it received $29.4 million in government grants in 2022, substantially more than any previous year, according to the report. 

Somos leadership and physicians are "frequent political donors," the report added, and their "giving ramped up significantly in 2022 as Hochul ran for governor in her own right."

Additionally, the program was aimed at providers who required distinct financial assistance. Applicants are allegedly supposed to have lost money in each of the last two years and have less than 15 days' worth of cash on hand. While Somos did lose money in 2020-22, it reported reserves of $74 million in 2022, which the Empire Center said was enough to finance roughly nine months of normal operations.

Becker's has reached out to Somos and will update this story if more information becomes available. 

Read the full report here

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