Nursing Home Coalition Aiming to Inform Public of State’s Neglect
OGDENSBURG – United Helpers COO Stacey Cannizzo is joining leaders from 25 other non-profit nursing homes across Upstate New York in sending strongly worded statements to media in their community to alert citizens of the ongoing lack of response from the governor on senior care issues.
“The end of 2022 marks a troublesome new milestone that most people are unaware of,” Mrs. Cannizzo wrote. “It marks 15 years since the state has raised the daily Medicaid rate paid to nursing homes to account for inflation.”
Given that the last increase was awarded in 2008 this failure extends back prior to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration through Andrew Cuomo’s entire 11-year term and into the final years of David Paterson’s time as governor.
“New York has distinguished itself as being dead last, or at best second to last, in what it reimburses nursing homes compared to actual costs,” Mrs. Cannizzo wrote citing multiple studies which compare nursing home costs and reimbursement rates across the country.
Citing those same studies, Mrs. Cannizzo said many states responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing the rates paid to nursing homes for care. At the same time, New York State cut those rates, not once, but twice, leading to a shortfall that exceeds $140 per resident, per day.
The lack of funding, she said is also making the staffing crisis faced by everyone in the medical community that much worse for nursing homes.
“Nursing homes are unable to compete for the quality workforce we all aspire to. The result is very real if you’re in need of nursing care,” she wrote. “Due to staffing limitations, United Helpers is, for the first time in its history, leaving beds vacant.”
United Helpers is not alone, she said. Citing coalition data, Mrs. Cannizzo said there are more than 6,700 beds sitting empty for those same reasons, which is also negatively impacting hospital systems across the state.
“When hospitals cannot discharge patients who need nursing home services, there are fewer, or in some cases no beds, for patients who truly need hospital care,” she wrote, adding this can also lead to patients sometimes being sent to facilities outside of the area, farther away from their families and loved ones.
In response to the past 15 years of neglect, Mrs. Cannizzo said the coalition is asking for a 20% increase in reimbursement rates to be included in the 2023-2024 budget.
“This is still less than half of the increase in costs we have absorbed over the past 15 years,” she wrote, noting the coalition has calculated that costs have risen by 42% over that same time.
“The people we serve deserve better from New York State. The outstanding employees who work in these settings deserve better. The family members who rely on us today, and the community who will look to us in the future deserve better too,” she said.
Those wishing to support the coalition’s efforts may send an automatically generated message to Gov. Hochul by visiting https://p2a.co/Q2wLwJZ. People may also reach out to Assemblyman Scott Gray, Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush, Senator Mark Walczyk, and Senator Dan Stec.
Mr. Gray, Mr. Blankenbusg, Mr. Walczyk, and Mr. Stec all represent portions of St. Lawrence County in the state legislature.
On the web: https://www.nysenate.gov/senators/mark-walczyk https://www.nysenate.gov/senators/daniel-g-stec
https://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=116 (Scott Gray)