United Helpers Joins Coalition Fighting For our Seniors
CANTON – United Helpers Rehabilitation and Senior Care in Canton is one of 26 non-profit skilled nursing facilities from across Upstate New York taking part in a coalition aimed at delivering the message to Albany that they can no longer continue to ignore senior citizens and their families who rely on these facilities for care.
As part of this effort the United Helpers Management Company Board of Directors, as well as the Society of the United Helpers Board is asking members of the public to reach out to Gov. Kathy Hochul through this link, which will generate a message on your behalf, https://p2a.co/Q2wLwJZ.
“Skilled nursing facilities all across New York have not seen an operating rate inflation adjustment in their Medicaid reimbursement rates for 15 years, going back to 2007,” said United Helpers Chief Operating Officer Stacey Cannizzo. “These stagnant rates have led to operating losses, not only for United Helpers, but for facilities all across the state.”
According to data compiled by the coalition, the 26 facilities have a census capacity of 4,631 beds with an average financial loss per bed of $25,384 per year.
Over the past several years these losses have led to the closure of more than a dozen senior care facilities in the region, including United Helpers Rehabilitation and Senior Care in Ogdensburg in 2021.
Using data provided by coalition members, there is a combined loss of $81.6 million for its 26 members in 2022. That’s an average of almost $3.14 million per facility.
“It’s almost as if the people responsible for making these funding decisions do not have parents, grandparents, or other loved ones who receive or could potentially one day receive skilled nursing care,” Mrs. Cannizzo said. “It’s disheartening to constantly read in the newspaper or see on TV about the tens or hundreds of
thousands of dollars available to other types of health care providers, but when it comes to folks in facilities such as ours, there is seldom any money available.”
With nearly 80% of the people receiving care through United Helpers relying on Medicaid and/or Medicare to pay for the services they receive, Mrs. Cannizzo said reimbursement rates from the government only provide enough funds to pay for roughly 50% of that care.
“The bottom line is New York State needs to do better for our seniors,” she said. “Along those lines we are compelling the state to provide skilled nursing facilities with a 20% increase to their reimbursement rate. We recognize that a 20% increase may sound like a lot, but if the state had not gone 15 years without an increase, we would not be in the situation where their lack of action has led to the closure of facilities such as ours.”
Mrs. Cannizzo said she would like to reassure both United Helpers employees, as well as family members for those receiving care in Canton that United Helpers Rehabilitation and Senior Care is not in danger of closing at this time, but without some changes to the state’s funding structure each year that passes puts us closer to that point.
“For many of us our parents and grandparents are among the most important people in our lives. They deserve the same level of love and care in their golden years that they provided to us as children and young adults growing up” Mrs. Cannizzo said.
United Helpers Management Company Board of Directors President Dr. Galen Pletcher said the time for people to act is now.
“Skilled nursing facilities such as ours have been preaching this message for years, but it has continually fallen on deaf ears,” he said. “Perhaps if our representatives started hearing from the people they rely on for votes and campaign contributions, they will finally hear our message.”