New York State Missing the Mark with Nursing Home Reforms
The public needs to know what ‘reforms’ some of our State Legislators, Senators and Governor Cuomo are trying to push through in the final FY 2021-22 State Budget. This legislation being advanced in the Senate and Assembly adversely affect nursing homes, both residents and staff. The very same industry that has been at the forefront of this battle, our healthcare heroes working day in and day out throughout this COVID-19 pandemic. During a critical time when we need support, we are instead facing Medicaid cuts, staffing mandates, and reforms that don’t truly help us to care for our residents, and certainly don’t help us to strategically grow our workforce.
Stephen Hanse, President and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association (NYSHFA) states, “There have been many bills introduced in the State Legislature under the guise of ‘nursing home reform.’ Whether it’s the requiring 70 percent of revenues be allocated to direct care or implementing studies or increasing fines, not one of these bills truly improves quality outcomes or addresses the two most important issues facing nursing homes in our State, namely New York’s long-term care workforce staffing crisis and the State’s 12+ years of slashing over $2 billion in Medicaid funding to nursing homes.”
“Almost 80 percent of New York’s nursing home resident care is reimbursed by Medicaid. The average cost of providing 24-hour nursing homecare in New York is $266 per resident per day, but the State only pays an average of $211 per resident per day – or $8.79 per hour! This $55 Medicaid shortfall is the largest in the Nation and directly impacts a nursing homes ability to retain workers when hospitals can always pay nurses more.”
Will Astor of The Rochester Beacon has artfully penned this article from the voice of families and leadership in skilled nursing facilities throughout these unprecedented last 12 months
The article link for Will Astor’s piece is below. https://rochesterbeacon.com/2021/03/11/battling-multiple-challenges/
NYSHFA and the facilities they represent Oppose these bills as they impose impractical, inflexible one-size fits all spending restrictions that fail to consider the unique real-time demands of providers and their residents.
By mandating the universal redirection of funding, these arbitrary 70/40 ratio bills unnecessarily disincentivize, and in many cases, preclude payments for physician services and critical investments in buildings and operations that support infection prevention and control and enhance the quality of life of our residents.
At a time when providers are facing significant staffing and financial challenges, this legislation only serves to exacerbate these challenges while failing to improve quality outcomes or addresses the two most important issues facing nursing homes in our State, namely New York’s long-term care workforce staffing crisis and the State’s 12+ years of slashing over $2 billion in Medicaid funding to nursing homes.
Robert W. Hurlbut, President of Hurlbut Care Communities, 13 family owned and operated skilled nursing facilities in the Greater Rochester area, also strongly opposes these so-called reforms.
“I have been in this business for over 40 years; the business of caring for our elderly. I am so tired of our industry being demonized. These two bills are an abomination! My staff has recovered over 250 residents in our region from COVID-19 in the last three months. These legislators and the Governor should be thanking us for what we have been able to accomplish during this pandemic, instead they are trying to shut down our nursing homes. Where will these seniors go when nursing homes close? There is not one bill addressing workforce development for nursing homes. Why not? How many legislators have actually stepped foot in a skilled nursing facility? Our health care staff are getting tired of being blamed. If these legislators and the Governor really want to make a difference in the lives of our seniors, then they need to help with funding; namely increasing Medicaid rates, and by enacting workforce development programs. Nursing homes will close if they force these mandates on us. There is just not an existing workforce to fulfill these preposterous mandates. They won’t do a single thing to help nursing home residents. Why did every Democrat vote in favor of these so-called ‘reforms’? How many of our Democratic Legislators actually read both of these bills; most likely none. This is about our most vulnerable population, and not about political party lines. One of the co-sponsors of these ‘reforms’, Richard N. Gottfried (Assembly District 75) has been a politician for over 50 years, showing no real understanding of the nursing home industry. He is a life-long politician and does not represent seniors in Upstate New York.”
If legislators and policymakers are sincere about ‘nursing home reform’ they will truly work together with the nursing home operators and not respond with knee-jerk reactions based on mis-truths and deceptive language. Failing to address these two issues is a failure by the State to implement true and meaningful nursing home reform. Let’s work together to provide the best care for our aging population.
Please direct any questions about NYSHFA and their perspective to Nancy Knapp at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please direct any questions for Hurlbut Care Communities to Connie Lester at email@example.com.