Empowering Health Care Consumers

Project Title

Empowering New York Consumers in an Era of Consolidation

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Empowering Health Care Consumers

Date Awarded

January 3, 2020








In an era of rapid consolidation of health care service providers, there is a need for greater transparency and consumer engagement in New York State’s Certificate of Need (CON) oversight of proposed health care transactions.

The Women’s Health Program of Community Catalyst (WHP), previously part of MergerWatch, works to protect consumers’ rights and access to care when hospitals merge with other health care systems. In 2016, NYHealth awarded MergerWatch a grant to conduct an in-depth review of New York State’s CON process and provide recommendations for how it can be used in the oversight of health care consolidations and as a forum for consumer input. NYHealth awarded MergerWatch a second grant in 2017 to implement a campaign based on its earlier recommendations for making the CON process more consumer-friendly and transparent for New Yorkers. The campaign and a subsequent 2018 report on how to better engage consumers in the process led to great progress on CON reforms with stakeholders and policymakers. In 2020, NYHealth awarded WHP a grant to build on this momentum and continue to advocate for greater transparency and consumer engagement in the State’s CON process.

Under this grant, WHP expanded its engagement of stakeholders statewide, gathered patient stories that demonstrated the impact of hospital consolidation, increased support among policymakers, and continued to push for adoption of the 2018 report’s main recommendations. WHP first worked to increase understanding of the problem and built support for recommended solutions among government watchdog groups, civic organizations, local officials, and State legislators of both parties from communities where hospitals have closed or downsized. It then launched a campaign to advocate for consumer-friendly changes to the CON process.