Pushback against nursing home reforms included in state budget

Local News

ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday there is a “conceptual agreement” on issues associated with the state budget, which is now nearly a week late. One of the many issues addressed in the budget involves nursing homes.

The Health and Mental Hygiene budget bill, which has not yet been voted on, includes spending mandates for all nursing facilities. It says at least 70% of revenue must be spent on direct resident care at residential health care facilities statewide, with 40% of that spent on resident-facing staffing.

Jeff Jacomowitz is a spokesperson for Centers Health Care, which runs the Ellicott Center for Rehabilitation and Health Care and Buffalo Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing. He said, “Although Centers Health Care doesn’t comment on finances and spending, it is too early to decide on certain spending with regards to the new budget bills.”

Cuomo hinted at nursing home reforms, specifically at for-profit facilities, back in February. He noted there was a tension at such facilities.

“Everything becomes one or the other,” the governor said at the time. “Do you want to hire more staff? Or do you want to make more profit?”

But the mandate proposed in the budget is being met with pushback from the industry and the GOP. Senator George Borrello, a Chautauqua County Republican who sits on the Aging Committee, predicted it would lead to the closure and consolidation of many facilities.

“Just because you put a lion’s share of your revenue into patient care doesn’t mean you’re going to be a sustainable model,” said Borrello, who also questioned whether it would resolve quality of care issues.

Stephen Hanse, the President and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association said an analysis shows lower rated facilities are already meeting the 70-40 spending ratio being proposed. He criticized it as a “one size fits all” approach.

“The analogy is if the government said every family of four in New York State had to spend their money a certain way,” he added.

More than 13,000 nursing home residents have died as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of his work here.

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