Raia: Governor’s Cuts Will Damage Long-Term Care for Seniors

March 7, 2008

Concerned about the future of nursing homes on Long Island and healthcare for seniors, Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R,I,C,WF-East Northport) today said that he will fight to restore cuts to long-term care that were proposed by the Governor in his executive budget.

“The Governor’s proposed cuts pose a health and safety concern for sick and elderly patients who rely on nursing homes and caregivers for care and support. It also jeopardizes jobs in the healthcare industry that Long Island cannot afford to lose,” said Raia. “If the governor is interested in cutting spending, then he should look for more effective ways rather than forcing seniors to shoulder the burden. I urge him to reconsider his proposal and agree to restore the cuts in his budget.”

The 2008-09 executive budget includes $100 million in cuts to home care and over $200 million in cuts to nursing homes. The Governor proposed a 35 percent reduction - a total of $28 million in 2008-09 and $36.4 million in 2009-10 - in the trend inflation factor for Personal Care Providers, Certified Home Health Agencies and Long Term Health Care Programs.

To make matters worse, the governor has proposed canceling enacted funding for the nursing home Medicaid reimbursement system. The plan will cancel the state’s financial obligation to facilities for the period between Jan. 1, 2007 to Dec. 31, 2007 and reduce the state’s obligation for Jan. 1, 2009 to March 31, 2009. This will result in a loss of $170 million owed to facilities.

According to the United State Census Bureau, from 2000-2030, the over-65 population in New York State is expected to grow by 60 percent. Those over age 85, who will most likely need long-term care, is projected to double – growing from 311,000 to 621,000 – an increase of 310,000 New Yorkers over the age of 85.

Additionally, the Continuing Care Leadership Coalition highlights that nursing homes are already in a fragile state of decline. Between 1983 and 2006, 63 nursing homes closed. In 2006, 60 percent of not-for-profit nursing homes sustained operating losses.

“The governor’s budget cuts will have a disastrous effect on Long Island’s healthcare industry and seniors will pay the biggest price. With nursing homes already struggling to stay afloat, the governor’s cuts will only make matters worse. I will fight to enact a budget that protects our seniors and the healthcare industry on Long Island,” said Raia.

In addition to fighting for restoration of cuts and help further ease the burden of rising costs on nursing homes, Raia said he will advocate for the implementation of a law passed in 2006 that will base Medicaid reimbursements on 2002 costs, not on 1983 costs. Lack of enforcement has cost nursing homes millions.